"Mexican WhiteBoy "is Newbery Award-winning author Matt de la Pena s second novel. He attended the University of the Pacific on a basketball scholarship and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at San Diego State University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. Look for Matt's other books, "Ball Don t Lie," "We Were Here," "I Will Save You," and "The Living," for which he received the Pura Belpre Author Honor Award, all available from Delacorte Press. You can also visit him at mattdelapena.com and follow @mattdelapena on Twitter."
Gr 9 Up-No matter where he lives, 16-year-old Danny Lopez is an outsider. At his private high school in wealthy northern San Diego County, "nobody paid him any attention...because he was Mexican." It didn't matter that he was half white. But when he visits the Mexican side of his family in National City, just a dozen miles from the border, Danny feels "Albino almost" and ashamed. He doesn't even speak Spanish. Rather than learning to blend in, Danny disengages from both worlds, rarely speaking and running his mind in circles with questions about how he might have kept his absent father from leaving the family. He decides to spend the summer in National City, hoping to get closer to his dad's roots and learn how to be "real" and stop feeling numb. Instead, he finds that, by the end of the summer, he has filled the void through unexpected friendship and love. In this first-rate exploration of self-identity, Danny's growth as a baseball pitcher becomes a metaphor for the conflicts he must overcome due to his biracial heritage. Dialogue written in a coarse street vernacular and interwoven with Spanish is awkward to read at first-like Danny, readers are made to feel like outsiders among the hard-edged kids of National City. But as the characters develop, their language starts to feel familiar and warm, and their subtle tenderness becomes more apparent. A mostly linear plot (with occasional flashbacks), plenty of sports action, and short chapters make this book a great pick for reluctant or less-experienced readers.-Madeline Walton-Hadlock, San Jose Public Library, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.