After Teodoro’s older brother, Manny, left for Iraq, the Avila family began to fall apart.
Then the 2008 financial crisis hit, and the Mexican-American Avilas downsized to a dumpy rental home amid a loss of income. Teodoro doesn’t see much hope for his broken family, but news of Manny’s return inspires the Avilas to improve their lives. Spurred on by an old childhood friend, Latina Wendy Martinez, and his Polynesian best bud, Caleb Ta’amu, Teodoro even tries to become a college-bound student. But when Manny comes home, he can’t shake off the shock of war. Situated between the hope-filled election of Barack Obama and the beginning of Teodoro’s senior year, Flores-Scott’s (Jumped In, 2013) latest explores the fragile bonds of a fractured family through moments full of poignant confession and self-discovery. Teodoro’s funny, wry first-person narration features quick, emotionally charged sentences that provide the narrative a breathless, hard-hitting quality. In hopes of helping Manny heal, Teodoro’s spunky sister, Xochitl, plans an impromptu road trip, ensnaring an unknowing Teodoro in the process. The trio travels all along the West Coast, reconnecting with old friends and family. A final stop in New Mexico offers Teodoro the chance to help his brother confront his PTSD, pull his family together again, and possibly begin something meaningful with Wendy. Featuring a diverse cast of delightful characters, this novel bursts with much-needed optimism.
A compassionate success. (resource list, author’s note) (Fiction. 12-18)