Wednesday, September 12, 2012

REFORMA Review: Mexican Whiteboy

Mexican Whiteboy
By Matt de la Peña
Delacorte Press/Random House, 2008. 247 pages. $15.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-385-73310-6.
Grades 6-9. 

Life for biracial teen Danny Lopez is confusing. His blonde hair, blue-eyes, light skin, and inability to speak Spanish make him fell outcast in his father’s Mexican family. His dark skin brands him an outcast in his predominantly white, private high school. In addition to these feelings of isolation and identify confusion, Danny is dealing with the absence of his father who left when Danny was a young boy – an absence that Danny seeks to fill by playing the all-American sport that his dad taught him. During a summer visit with his paternal cousins in San Diego, the teen eventually develops his self-confidence and understands the truth behind his father’s disappearance. Although the plot features a sport that will attract many reluctant readers, the slow pacing through out two-thirds of the novel and the rushed inclusion of a random hate crime and suicide attempt within the last few chapters may be off-putting for the intended audience.  With other excellent books available on similar topics (Benjamin Sáenz’s He Forgot to Say Goodbye and Oscar Hijuelos’ Dark Dude), this pitch is not likely to hit a smashing homerun with teens.

Recommended only as a secondary purchase.

Naidoo, J. C. (2009). Mexican Whiteboy. Written by Matt de la Peña.  REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 24.

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