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HELP WANTED by Gary Soto



by Gary Soto

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-15-205201-1
Publisher: Harcourt

Ten perceptive short stories give glimpses of everyday life and emotions among a variety of adolescent Latinos. With a range of tones from sad to joyful, the stories focus mostly on teens in working class families whose lives come alive through evocative details. Soto excels at getting into the minds of both boys and girls: a boy who gets his first kiss from a girl who mistakes him in the dark for someone else; an overweight girl looking for a first boyfriend; a wonderfully realized character who despairs of her uncouth family and seeks help from Miss Manners. While one story effectively if briefly explores the aftermath of a mother’s death by accident, another humorously equates adolescent boys with chimps in their looks, actions and perception by adults. The realistic dialogue uses Spanish words in context, with a glossary at the back. Readers, Latino or not, have a good chance of seeing themselves and their feelings in these compelling stories. (Fiction. 11-14)