Barbara's Reviews > He Forgot to Say Goodbye

He Forgot to Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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Mar 25, 09

bookshelves: book-eval-book, ya
Read in March, 2009

Two boys from different sides of El Paso, Texas are both growing up without their fathers, Ramiro Lopez from Dizzyland, the poor Latino part of town, and Jacob Upthegrove from the Oh Wow Westside, the wealthy side of town. In alternating, often very short chapters, Ram and Jake describe their lives and how they slowly become friends. Each boy is dealing with family issues although in comparison to Ram, Jake’s seem superficial. Ram’s brother is in the hospital after overdosing on drugs and is brain dead. Despite having an absent father which weighs heavily on Ram, he has a loving mother doing everything she can to provide a good life for her two sons. In addition, he has a large, extended family of aunts and uncles as a support network, especially his Tia Lisa. Jake on the other hand only has his mom whom he calls sarcastically, Sally, which is not her given first name, and a stepfather, whom he sees in the embrace of another woman. They are both loners in their respective schools which are next door to each other and they slowly become friends because they hang out in the same place off campus. The friendship develops a little too slowly and the beginning of the book is confusing. The characters are well-drawn and once the friendship fully develops including Ram’s friend Alejandra as a love interest for Jake, the book becomes more interesting. Students may not have the patience to wait out the early part of the book.
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