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EFRAIN’S SECRET by Sofia Quintero


by Sofia Quintero

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 13th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-84706-6
Publisher: Knopf

Efrain Rodriguez, on track to be valedictorian at Pedro Albizu Campos High School in the South Bronx, is determined to break the barriers that have kept other low-income students out of ultra-selective universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Quintero, aka Black Artemis, author of urban fiction for adults, realistically and painfully depicts an Afro-Latino teen who has everything he needs to succeed. He is smart and handsome, and he feels love blossoming when he meets Candace, a Katrina survivor and exile from the South. But he is caught between his aspirations and his undeniable poverty, and very few encourage him to pursue his dream. In her YA debut, the author cleverly uses challenging SAT vocabulary words and their meanings to head each chapter and direct its theme; the word “repudiate – (v) to reject, refuse to accept” describes the grief of Efrain’s mother when she discovers what he is secretly doing to earn money, for instance. Both Spanish and urban African-American vernacular dialogue add credibility to this innovative novel that is sure to spark discussion among students who are pondering their options. (Fiction. YA)