Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Pena

mexican white boy“He’s Mexican because his family’s Mexican, but he’s not really Mexican. His skin is dark like his grandma’s sweet coffee, but his insides are as pale as the cream she mixes in.” Danny Lopez is torn between the private school world of his divorced white mother and the San Diego barrio of his Mexican father’s family. Feeling like he doesn’t fully belong in either, he focuses on his passion for baseball, and improving the erratic pitches that have kept him off the prep school team. When his mother decides to go live with her wealthy white boyfriend in San Francisco, Danny opts instead to spend the summer with his father’s family in San Diego. There he meets Uno, a trash-talking half black, half Hispanic kid, also with a divorced mom. Uno understands Danny’s split background and helps him use his fast pitch to cook up hustles at local ball fields. These two boys have Big League dreams. But they’ll both have to learn to come to terms with their mixed heritages and the confusing roles their absentee dads have played in their lives before they can achieve their goals. Matt de la Pena scores a home run with this richly characterized story of two boys struggling to discover the sort of men they want to be. Full of authentic, raw dialogue liberally peppered with Spanish, de la Pena’s follow-up to his thought provoking first novel Ball Don’t Lie is powerfully reminiscent of Paul Griffin’s Ten Mile River and Coe Booth’s Tyrell.  An unexpectedly lyrical and poignant read about teens from the wrong side of the tracks trying to make good.

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