Recently suspended twice for school fights, 17-year-old Abraham grapples with a propensity for violence.
The Latino teen’s grandmother can’t seem to bear his fighting anymore and decides that “Abram needs to learn how to be a man.” She enlists the help of Claudio, Abraham’s boorish, hostile uncle. With Uncle Claudio’s impending return, Abram fears the worst. Although his mother’s absence and his father’s death—a topic not broached in his family—also gnaw at him, he finds solace in his relationship with almost-girlfriend Ophelia, who urges him to root out the source of his aggression. “If you keep fighting….Nothing good can come from this, Abraham.” In his debut for teens, Jiménez (The Possibilities of Mud, 2014) explores shades of manhood and all it entails with a deft, poetic hand. Utilizing a second-person narration, the author revels in offering intense sensory details, portraying a firm sense of Abram’s inner turmoil. Uncle Claudio’s arrival marks the beginning of an ill-fated path for his nephew. After taking him to the gym to hone his strength, Uncle Claudio wants to prepare Abram for a career in boxing. Falling deeper for Ophelia, Abram considers his uncle’s offer as he muses on the “prospect of bills and a job and a family to lead.” When Uncle Claudio signs him up for dubious fighting matches, it all comes crashing down on Abram. Revelations come in disorienting wallops.
A moving, almost-suffocating, haunting exploration of what defines manhood. (Fiction. 14 & up)