Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same” as Want to Read:
Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  119 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Troubled Cesar in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, because his Eskimo mother has moved home where she hopes they can both carve out a fresh start. But he's convinced he's just biding his time until he can get back to LA. Cesar's charmingly offbeat cousin, Go-boy, is equally convinced that Cesar will stay. And so they set a wager. If Cesar is still in Unalakleet in a year, he ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Unbridled Books (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same

The Call of the Wild by Jack LondonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerWhite Fang by Jack LondonAlaska and Back by Dorothy May MercerAlaska by James A. Michener
Alaska Tales
76th out of 205 books — 186 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 257)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 11, 2010 Audrey rated it it was amazing
N.B. Really 4 1/2 stars

I'll admit it - the only reason I wanted to read this book was because the title sounded cool, and I liked the author's name, Mattox. But make no mistake, this book was powerful. It's also not about what you think it's about; the story is not the story you expect it to be.

It starts off when Cesar, an L.A. gang member, moves to small town Unalakleet, Alaska with his mom, a native Eskimo, when his brother is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. When he arrives, he befr
Sep 25, 2010 Terry rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but I felt constantly frustrated by the story-telling. For me the biggest problem was that the novel lacked forward momentum--at various points in the novel, information would be revealed, and then the narrator would go into a flashback to tell what had happened. Perhaps the most frustrating of these moments is the big reveal of Go-Boy's break-up with Valerie, which should be the climax of the novel, but feels more like a recap of information the reader already ...more
Oct 03, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it
How do I describe this book? "Northern Exposure" meets "Gran Torino"? "Ordinary Wolves" meets "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"? Better to say that this novel is an utter original, one that combines the quirkiness of the misfits that end up in Alaska with the tragic possibilities presented by the bleak landscape, the winters without light, and the limited economic opportunities. Basically, it's a story about the friendship between Cesar, a gangbanger from L.A. whose brother has been sentenced to ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Dodie rated it it was amazing
A somewhat unique coming of age story in a very unusual setting - Unalakleet, Alaska. Cesar has been relocated from Los Angeles by his Native mother, hoping to get him out of gang life and reconnected with their family heritage. He quickly forms a bond with his older cousin, nicknamed Go-Boy, who is part seer, prophet and politician. Life in Alaska has its own rhythms which soon seem second nature to Cesar, allowing him to contemplate the patterns from his previous life with the gangs and to not ...more
Sarah Stone
I feel as if I've just come back from living in Unalakleet. The characters here -- especially Cesar/Atausiq, Go-Boy, and Kiana -- are so real that if I hadn't met them, I would forever miss having known them. I haven't read this before, since Mattox wrote it before we worked together (he was doing the line-edits and proofing on this while we looked at his next book), and found it really alive and moving. So glad I read it!
Paula Margulies
Sep 09, 2010 Paula Margulies rated it it was amazing
A promising debut by author Mattox Roesch. This one's about a boy whose single mother moves him from gang activity in Los Angeles to a small town in Alaska. Great characters and a unique and compelling voice. I couldn't put it down (and don't you love the title?). :-)
Natasha  Briggs
Jun 17, 2014 Natasha Briggs rated it liked it
Seventeen year old Cesar is living a crazy life as a gangbanger. He is doing unthinkable things that no other seventeen year old would even think of. His mother has an Eskimo background and decides to move the two of them back to her home town of Unalakleet in Alaska.

Cesar is not happy about the move and constantly thinks that he will be able to move back to L.A. Once there he meets his cousin Go-Boy that shows him a whole new meaning to life. Go-Boy shows him a world where everybody is same-sam
Sep 23, 2009 Wendy rated it liked it
Gangs are a reality, and, for Cesar, they are a way of life. His older brother is serving a life sentence for murdering two teenagers, and Cesar would have landed in the cell next to Wicho if their mother had not decided to move home to Alaska, taking 17 year old Cesar with her. Unalakleet couldn't be more different than Southern California. It is a small village where everyone knows just about everyone. There are no gangs and the crime rate is extremely low. Life seems to be much less complicat ...more
Laura de Leon
Nov 24, 2009 Laura de Leon rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
This book attracted me mostly due to its name-- somehow, the book description didn't give me an idea of what to expect.

(I much prefer the description on Unbridled Books to the one that is here and on Amazon).

Same-same is as quirky as the name would lead you to expect- quirky without being either cute or light. The focus was on character-- mostly that of Cesar.

Cesar was on a bad path in LA, one likely to end like that of his brother, who is in jail because of his role in a gang shooting. Cesar h
Sep 23, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it
I devoured this book, and if we didn't already have a field nomination, I'd be writing one.

Cesar, unwillingly relocated with his Native mother to Unalakleet AK while his older brother serves a lifetime sentence for murdering two teens in a gang hazing, can't wait to turn 18 and return to LA to go into business with his abusive bsentee father, and his brother in jail (as a minor, he isn't allowed). Immediately upon arrival in Alaska, his well-connected cousin Go-Boy, who he has only met once befo
Unbridled Books
From The New York Times Book Review:

When Roesch’s thoughtful first novel opens, Cesar Stone, a 17-year-old Los Angeles gang member whose brother is serving life for murder, is living alone with his financially struggling mother. Determined to make a better life, she moves the two of them back to her hometown — Unalakleet, Alaska, a small fishing village where much of her quirky and eccentric family still lives. (Imagine the protagonist discovering he has a relative named “Aunty Striptease.”) But
Mar 09, 2010 Sonya rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Very impressive and believable story of a teenage boy who is transplanted from an unsafe and volatile life of gang violence to a remote village in Alaska, where his mother was born and has now returned. It's a coming-of-age story, certainly, smart and painful, yet full of all kinds of love; especially moving is the relationship between protagonist Cesar and his cousin, Go-boy. Through their fortunes and missteps over one pivotal year, boys become young men.

If you're a teacher looking to break aw
Jan 29, 2010 Lara rated it really liked it
I wrote a review of this book for PopMatters: here.

Here's the beginning...

Roesch’s debut novel is a riveting story about two 17-year-old cousins in rural Alaska: one who is pulling his life back together, and one who is coming completely unraveled.

Cesar, the narrator, grew up running with a gang in Los Angeles, and his brother is in jail for murdering two teenagers in a rival gang. Go-boy, his cousin in Unalakleet Alaska, has known a completely different kind of life, taking pride in village w
Mar 26, 2010 Drew rated it really liked it
Cesar, the teen gang-banger from Los Angeles, watched his older brother, Wicho, go to prison for his gang activities. Cesar's mother, determined to keep him from the same fate, moves herself and Cesar back to her native village in western Alaska. The only thing that the pessimistically minded Cesar wants is to do is get back to LA, but, Go-boy, his older, overly optimistic cousin bets that Cesar won't go back.[return][return]How these two cousins affect each other, and how their surroundings aff ...more
Janice Todd
Mar 14, 2013 Janice Todd rated it really liked it
Roesch does a great job writing about Unalakleet, a fishing village on Norton Sound and off the road system in Alaska where life goes on at a different pace. He takes the main character from LA gang member to a village of 700 that's a three hour flight north of Anchorage where everyone knows each other and everyone has many relatives. There are problems, and everyone in the village knows what they are even though they may not understand why or the history behind the problems... alcoholism, menta ...more
Jun 28, 2014 MaryJane rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014-list, alaska
I was very impatient reading this book. I don't know why. About 2/3 of the way through I quickly scanned to the end to say that I finished it. I wanted to like it - it's written by somebody who lives in rural Alaska and he captures the feel of life in the village, but it lacks some crucial element for my satisfaction. The irritating thing is that I don't have any suggestions for improvement.
Nov 26, 2009 Jackie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jackie by: Caitlin at Unbridled Books
Debut author Mattox Roesch has tremendous talent and the ability to create characters who leap off the page. This story is about Cesar, a young LA gangbanger, and his mother who has decided to move herself and her son back to the small Alaskan community that she was born in and ran away from 20 years ago. There Cesar's life becomes entwined in his ebullient cousin Go-Boy's wild schemes for a new philosophy of living and his own religion based on the Alaskan, feminine, Jesus. The author actually ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Balika rated it liked it
Meh. Ok. Excellent description of village life. Well-developed characters. But for some reason the narrative just didn't pull me along. I didn't believe in Go Boy, one of the main characters. I just didn't care to finish. Got about 2/3 through and that's ok with me.
Jan 09, 2010 Betsy rated it really liked it
Overall, the story was extremely sad. I loved Go Boy even though I knew his quirky behavior was totally manic. Cesar seemed to be emotionally paralyzed a lot of the time and unable to act. Even though he saw what had happened to Sean, he struggled with telling anyone. Similarly, he knew that Go Boy wasn’t acting rationally and probably needed help even before he crashed. I would have liked to know Kiana better. I loved so many things about this book – especially Go Boy’s 101 reasons why he love ...more
Nari (The Novel World)
Nov 04, 2009 Nari (The Novel World) rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2009
Caesar is a product of his environment. His other brother Wicho, is a gangbanger who shot a couple 15 year old kids and wound up with a life sentence in jail. Caesar followed in his footsteps, running with gangs, until his mother finally had enough and moved them back to her hometown in Alaska. This poses a complete 180 for Caesar. Despite knowing the ganglife, Caesar was not opposed to moving to Alaska, even though he and his cousin Go-Boy made a bet that Caesar would not move back to LA after ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing
A really amazing book about compassion and coming out of your shell, the influence we have on each other, and how slowly and quickly our lives and our selves can change. I liked how more was always being revealed in this book, and it felt like real life that way. Deserves to be a West Coast cult classic like The River Why and Craig Lesley's novels, and probably a bunch more from the 80s that I remember....Rabbit Boss by someone named Sanchez, Mona Simpson's books. Mattox Roesch sounds a bit youn ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Sheri rated it liked it
Teenage LA gangsta gets uprooted by his divorced mother, who moves the two of them back to the tiny native fishing village in coastal Alaska where she's from. No plot surprises here -- just the opposite, because the writer tells you the plot punch lines before setting up how you get there. The story is in the journey, not the climactic life events recounted in the book. I've not encountered this style of story-telling before, but found it fascinating. Roesch also excels in conveying the experien ...more
Mar 08, 2010 Teddy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
In the mean streets of Los Angeles California there are a lot of gangs. Cesar's brother, Wicho was in a gang and is now prison for life. Now Cesar is in a gang and heading in the same direction as Wicho. With an absent father, Cesar's mother wants a better life for both of them and decides to move to her native Eskimo village, Unalakleet in Alaska.
Cesar does not want to move but..(read the rest of my review at:
Sep 27, 2009 Kristy rated it really liked it
Cesar moves from LA to a small town in Alaska with his Native mother after his parents split up and his brother is given a life-sentence for murder. While he first feels isolated in the small town and distanced from its traditions, he gradually becomes a part of everything through his manic cousin Go-boy. A great coming-of-age story, perfect for young adult or adult readers, that addresses issues of crime, sex, drinking, and mental illness without being preachy.
Sep 27, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it
I was impressed with this book -- it's got crossover appeal in that it is appropriate and of interest for adults and young adults. The writing was solid all the way through, and the characters were very convincing, especially the way that they were at the cusp of learning to deal with life in an adult way. They had a way of looking at things in the past and things in the future that was evolving as you read. Highly recommended.
Oct 29, 2009 Gavin rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Mattox Roesch has created a wonderful first novel about a half-native boy unwillingly relocated from Los Angeles to a small town on the coast of Alaska. Through his relationships with his cousin and others in Unalakleet he gains a deeper understanding of himself and the people around him. Written in concise, clear language it is a book that works for both adult and young adult readers.
Jan 11, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-books
Meh. While I appreciated the setting and characterization in this book, the spare language combined with the glacial pacing didn't do it any favors. It was an interesting take on bipolar disorder and thoughtful look at disenfranchised rural Alaskan life, but moved very, very slowly for me. I kept putting it down and picking it up, constantly distracted by brighter, shinier stories:)
Mar 20, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Roesch is an author to watch. This is his first novel & is such a great book, sort of a coming-of-age book, written with such wisdom. I enjoyed the setting; a small northern Alaska fishing village & Lots of fully developed characters that really held my interest. It was filled with both sadness & hope. This is an adult novel but would be appropriate for high school aged readers also.
Liza Gilbert
Jan 10, 2010 Liza Gilbert rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
I absolutely loved the secondary character of Go-boy in this strange story of a gangster who moves to Alaska. I also thought Roesch did an admirable job of portraying a young man with bipolar disorder. It isn't my favorite book, but it had some great moments in it, like Go-boy posting signs all over town to convince his girlfriend he loved her.
Jul 03, 2011 Catness rated it liked it
Not what it was expected to be. turns out not to be a feel good coming of age story about an LA kid in Alaska... well it is, but it's also about manic depression. It's more interesting for it's description of modern day life in a small Alaskan village than anything else, though.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish
  • Taroko Gorge
  • Breath and Bones
  • The Distance Between Us
  • The Green Age of Asher Witherow
  • Captivity
  • The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters
  • Rain Village
  • The Singer's Gun
  • Safe from the Sea
  • Steer Toward Rock
  • Hick
  • One Deadly Sin
  • Loose End
  • People of the Whale
  • Big World
  • The Pirate's Daughter
  • Couch
Born in 1977, he grew up in Minnesota, lived in Minneapolis for ten years and played drums in an indie rock back, designed and peddled skateboards, and founded the T-shirt printing operation Screenarchy.

His stories have appeared in The Sun, The Missouri Review, Indiana Review, Narrative Magazine, Redivider, AGNI online, and the 2007 Best American Nonrequired Reading. For them, he has received a P
More about Mattox Roesch...

Share This Book