Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Pena

September 19, 2008 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

Danny is the skinny kid who would never be mistaken for an athlete, no matter how talented he might be. He just didn’t have ‘the look’. But when he throws a baseball, he can blow away even the best hitters. Except in a game. Under pressure, his anxiety makes it impossible for him to throw a strike when it counts. His talent seems useless to him.

It doesn’t help that he is Mexican-American but looks white and speaks no English. At his mostly white private high school that doesn’t make much difference, but in the border barrio where he is spending the Summer, it makes his life impossible.

Danny is eventually befriended by Uno who can use Danny’s talent as a hustle that he thinks will make them enough money to fix the holes that each of them has in their families.

De la Pena, author of Ball Don’t Lie, writes great sports and has a great ear for real teen talk. But this is more than a sports tale, because he touches on the strengths and resilience of family, the rocky path toward self-discovery, love and truth. Relcutant teen boy readers who are into sports won’t be disappointed. Age: 12 and up. (Review by John Sexton)

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