Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Matt de la Peña

I'm excited to read Mexican White Boy with my students this year. Thanks to everybody who's been helping me buy a class set!

I read all of Matt de la Peña's books over the summer, and they made me so happy. Finally some good YA fiction about Latino boys. (If you know of other books, I want to hear about them!) And of course it's not just about Latino boys, but I'm happy to have a book I can bring to my students and say this is awesome for all these reasons and one of them is that the main character is Latino. Because it doesn't happen anywhere near enough.

From We Were Here, about Miguel and Rondell, who run away from the group home they're in and take off for the Mexican border as if that might really let them start over:
I picked up a rock and thought how weird it was that people call 'em aliens. Like they're from outer space and look like damn Martians. All green with big-ass Rondell heads. And not just aliens but illegal ones too. I wondered who made up that term. And how weird is it that they put cops all along the border so no Mexicans could sneak in? But on the other side it was straight crickets. Nobody was there making sure American people like me and Rondell didn't sneak into Mexico. Shit like that is weird if you really stop and think about it.
Also awesome in this low-key incidental way: some of the characters from Ball Don't Lie are also in We Were Here. I like when that happens. He's got a whole world set up.

Also, Mong says, "It's not about what happens to people. It's how they figure out what it means." There's some smart stuff in this book. Earlier, Miguel says, "I looked at him and then leaned back and crossed my arms. I started calming down, which pissed me off even more. I hated that something some damn counselor could say would make me calm down when I didn't even feel like it."

I'd love to read We Were Here with my students, but we'll start with Mexican Whiteboy.

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