How easy is it to be a seventeen-year old guy with a gay dad? Easier than it is for the friend whose mother abuses drugs and the friend whose mother kicked him out of the house.
Seventeen-year old Sal is about to start his senior year of high school and he feels like he's filled with tectonic plates that are shifting and colliding inside of him. Sal's fists are starting to do his talking for him. As he walks to school on the first day back, some jerk named Enrique Infante gets in his face and starts calling Sal's dad a faggot. Punch, punch, slam.
Sal has never been a violent person before. Now it seems there is an anger, a rage waiting down inside of him and when it wants to explode out it just does without consulting him first.
Seventeen can be a tough year when you're a Mexican white boy in El Paso, Texas and your dad is gay. Seventeen can be a tough year when you are wondering who your biological father was and if you are just like him.
Sal is adopted. His mother died when he was three and he's lived with Vicente ever since. Lucky for Sal, Vicente is an amazing father who has room in his heart for Sal and his friends. Vicente has figured out some important rules for life that he's passing along and he knows how to be there for his son. But, as Sal is getting closer to manhood he's beginning to wonder how much of who he is has come from the gene pool of the man who fathered him.
In the friend department Sal has known Sammy since he and she were in diapers. Sal and Sam have a friendship that rides the waves of all sorts of change but they share a bond that relies on honesty, compassion, awareness, insight and timely and sensitive text messages...sometimes even when they are sitting in the same room.
Sal is searching for something. He doesn't understand how these powerful emotions have come to live deep inside of him. He, Sam and their friend, Fito, are facing some challenges and turns that no one expected. Their stories include mothers on drugs and mothers who would steal from them to get drug money. Sal's story includes a letter that his mother left for him before she died of cancer. What did she need to tell him? Who is his real father? Is he like his real father?
His eighteenth birthday is coming. It's time to know. What does it mean to be a man? Does it mean you know how to fix everything? Does it mean you can control everything in your world? Does it mean you will never feel pain?
This is a beautiful coming of age story of three teens who are all finding their way into adulthood. They are lucky to have the guiding star of a wise and caring adult, Vicente, in their lives. But lucky isn't the word they'd use to describe a lot of what is happening to them. This story is woven of moments of each life, conversations between characters, difficult emotions, friendship, and empathy all strung together in short bursts. Watching the characters navigate the very authentic teenage challenges that walk an edge of trauma and despair makes for a riveting read. Resilience is a beautiful thing to witness.
445 pages 9780544586505 Ages 14 and up
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Identity, Adoption, Families, Friendship, Death, Mexican Americans
Storyline: Thoughtful; Character growth; Relationships
Pacing: Moderate; Not Action-packed