Lincoln Mendoza, 12, has felt in limbo ever since moving from San Francisco's Mission District barrio to neat, tree-lined Sycamore--a feeling exacerbated by a game his basketball team is going to play against his former team.
Various forces work on Lincoln's fragile sense of identity: he senses that his coach has it in for him because he's Mexican-American; he has trouble accepting his mother's white boyfriend; and he's accused by his main man from the barrio of going "soft'' living among whites. Sorting through these internal and external prejudices, Lincoln comes to realize that life isn't a matter of taking sides but of integrating the new with the old. Soto (Baseball in April, 1990) creates a believable, compelling picture of the stress that racial prejudice places on minority children. He respects the intelligence of his readers, sparing dramatics and allowing them to read between the lines of his quiet yet powerful scenes and bringing the racial issue closer to home for a mainstream readership: the Mendozas are now suburban and middle class and could be anyone's neighbors. There's a tad too much Spanish (it becomes tiresome to read Spanish followed by its translation), and the glossary of Spanish terms should point out that Mexican idioms are included.
Nonetheless, a fine, useful contribution. (Fiction. 8-12)