Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mexican White Boy

de la Peña, Matt. 2008. MEXICAN WHITE BOY. New York: Random House. ISBN 978385733106 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

Sixteen year old Danny Lopez leaves San Diego to spend the summer with his Mexican relatives in National City. Half-Mexican, Danny feels like an outsider in both places. As he gets to know his Dad’s family, Danny is forced to face an unlikely friendship, his inability to control his high speed fastball, and the fact that his father is in prison, not Mexico.

Danny believes that if he can control his fastball, he will fit in. He and Uno, his friend, win their needed money on set-up challenges with local hitters, but after learning that his father hit his mom, Danny spirals out of control on the mound yet again. Only when Danny confronts his mother and finally faces the truth is he able to come to terms with his father and their relationship.

Danny’s despair is evident in his letters to his dad, where he pours out his heart, and how he digs his fingernails into his arm when stressed. The addition of a few Spanish words interspersed within the realistic dialogue make the feel of the story authentic and the Spanish slang echoes that heard on the street.

Appearing on the surface to be a guy’s baseball story, this book is for anyone struggling to fit in and understand one’s self during the teen years. The story, wrapped in the vernacular of the streets, will appeal to all readers, including those reluctant to pick up a book.

Other books for teens about learning to fit in:
Harmon, Michael. THE LAST EXIT TO NORMAL. ISBN 0375840982
Lyga, Barry. BOY TOY. ISBN 0618723935

By Shirley Smith Duke

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