Roxanne Hsu Feldman's Reviews > Carlos Is Gonna Get It

Carlos Is Gonna Get It by Kevin Emerson
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's review
Dec 24, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: 6-8grade, 4-6grade, realisticfiction
Read in December, 2008

Despite some flaws, this is a very strong narrative. I was hooked, wanting to know how everything's gonna pan out at the end, wanting to know exactly what's wrong with Carlos, and wanting to know how Trina is dealing with all the ups and downs and the very ambiguous relationships with all her friends who are not necessarily NICE people, and neither is she herself.

That's the strength of the book: how there are many gray areas and in the end, nothing really gets resolved. I find this a gutsy move on the author's part. Trina "learned" something but does not change dramatically or become another person altogether. It's ultra realistic this way. And she is ultra realistic herself: having doubts and wanting to act certain ways but often lets herself into situations that she will regret later on, just because she wants to fit in with her friends.

However, I found the pay off a little less than hoped for due to these real-life resolutions... not very satisfying. I also found the several moments when Trina's narrative voice changes from Mature-Teen to the "Like-speaking"-Teen very jarring. About 5 occasions Trina "tells" how she feels with the word "like" embedded in each sentence. At first, I thought maybe when she is in a specific kind of mental state, she "regresses" into using this language, but no, there are similar situations that do not produce this kind of speech pattern. It almost feels like the author might have used this colloquial speech pattern through out the story at first and during the editorial process it got "cleaned up" but did not get completely wiped out -- a few spots were missed and left. It popped out at me and really took me out of the otherwise very affecting narration.

Another aspect that bugs me as a reader, not a critic, is how I really don't like that no one seems to be actually NICE or ENJOYING life. It definitely makes me uncomfortable that I do not like ANY of the characters. It's an "emotional squirm" - I felt like I couldn't continue reading because I just don't like their company. (Similar to my reactions to Elaine and George in Seinfeld -- I acknowledge the writers' brilliance in creating these despicable characters and yet I don't feel the NEED to know what they do, how they think, and what happens to them.)
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