Publishing Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Young Adult Contemporary
The Premise from the Publisher: "Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it's senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal's not who he thought he was, who is he? This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph" (HMH).
My overall thoughts and review: When I was first emailed about this blog tour opportunity I was seriously jumping up and down in my kitchen. I haven't reviewed it, but I've sung my praises online and in person for Sáenz's other book: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets to the Universe. I absolutely loved that book and it wasn't just the the story and the characters but I fell in love with Sáenz's way of writing. So this book was definitely a treat because it brought me right back a few years ago, sitting and reading, absolutely in awe of the writing and wanting to savor every page. What I love most about this book is that a romantic relationship was possible, but was not the sole focus of the text. The book was more focused on Sal coming to terms with himself and who he is, and the importance of family. Family was a big part of the text because as Sal enters senior year, his adoptive father gives him a letter from his dead mother and he learns that his Mima is sick with cancer. You see Sal questioning how life isn't fair in regards to his Mima and also becoming curious of his biological father. The scenes with Mima were so incredibly sweet and you can just feel the love between the two of them coming out of the pages of the book. The relationship with Mima reminded me a lot of my relationship with my aunt and I have to admit, I did tear up at some pages. I also loved Vicente, his
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)
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Enrique Infante had come up behind us as Sam and I were walking. And all of a sudden he jumped in front of me and he was in my face. He looked right at me, pushed his finger into my chest, and said, “You’re dad’s a faggot.”
Something happened inside me. A huge and uncontrollable wave ran through me and crashed onto the shore that was my heart. I suddenly lost my ability to use words, and, I don’t know, I’d never been that angry and I didn’t know what was really happening because anger wasn’t normal for me. It was as if I, the Sal I knew, just went away and another Sal entered my body and took over. I remember feeling the pain in my own fist just after it hit Enrique Infante’s face. It all happened in an instant like a flash of lightning, only the lightning wasn’t coming from the sky, it was coming from somewhere inside of me. Seeing all that blood gush out of another guy’s nose made me feel alive. It did. That’s the truth. And that scared me.
I had something in me that scared me.
The next thing I remembered was that I was staring down at Enrique as he lay on the ground. I was my calm self again, well, not calm but at least I could talk. And I said, “My dad is a man. He has a name. His name is Vicente. So if you want to call him something, call him by his name. And he’s not a faggot.”
Sam just looked at me. I looked back at her. “Well, this is new,” she said. “What happened to the good boy? I never knew you had it in you to punch a guy.”
“I didn’t either,” I said.
Sam smiled at me. It was kind of a strange smile.
I looked down at Enrique. I tried to help him up, but he wasn’t having any of it.
Sam and I watched as he walked away. I was a little stunned. I looked at Sam. “Maybe we don’t always know what we have in us.”
Be sure to check out the other blog tour stops for more excerpts from the book! :D
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book and the book excerpt was sent to me by Raincoast Books. The excerpt is written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and comes directly from the published book. All opinions are my own.