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HOMESTRETCH by Paul Volponi


by Paul Volponi

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-3987-0
Publisher: Atheneum

Gaston “Gas” Giambanco flees from his Texas home at the age of 17 to escape his violent, alcoholic father and the painful absence of his deceased mother. He enters the clandestine underbelly of a racetrack in Arkansas, managed by a corrupted man, Damon “Dag” Dagget, who exploits Mexican immigrants that are not authorized to work in the United States. Ironically, Gas was raised under the ambivalent sentiments of a racist father who called Mexicans “beaners” and a compassionate mother, María, who shared with them the language of her Spanish ancestors. Gas is convinced that a Mexican killed his mother in a car accident, although he knows that it was a sheriff’s deputy who “blew a stop sign and hit her head-on” in pursuit of the immigrant. Living in Pennington Racetrack was not in his plans. But there, illuminated by the memories of his mother and touched by the kindness of three Mexicans, Ignacio, Rafael and Anibal, Gas finds redemption and the chance to achieve a childhood dream: to become a jockey. An intense novel that treats controversy with commendable honesty. (Fiction. YA)