Lauren's Reviews > Mexican WhiteBoy

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Pena
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's review
Feb 05, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult
Read from February 01 to 03, 2010

This sat on my bookshelf for several months until I picked it up earlier this week. Do I not like orange dustjackets? Was I unconsciously wary of there being too many baseball-related plot points? I don't know -- I'm just sorry it took me so long to read it. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, loved the economy of the language, and even thought the baseball stuff was totally and completely interesting. I liked how De la Peña drops the reader into the middle of the action, both in the beginning and in subsequent chapters, and trusts us to discern the necessary facts about character relationships and feelings and such instead of spelling it all out. I don't know if I've just read a spate of over-explanatory YA books or what, but it was a nice change when reading Mexican WhiteBoy to have to be in the dark for a few paragraphs before knowing for sure where the scene was taking place, who was there, how much time had passed since the last scene, etc.

Also, the Spanish words and phrases weren't immediately translated and explained. I liked that, too. Most can be figured out from context.

The title and cover and flap copy all point to Danny being the sole protagonist in the book, but Danny's rival-turned-friend Uno was, to me, just as important and interesting a character as Danny. And Uno's dad, who's gotten off of drugs and out of trouble, and who likes to expound -- frequently -- on his beliefs, is one of the most interesting characters I've encountered in a book in a while. De la Peña leaves it up to the reader as to whether the guy should be admired or trusted at all.

The only scene that irked me slightly was an emotional scene toward the end that reminded me too much of the "it's not your fault" sobfest from Good Will Hunting. And, to be fair, that scene totally worked back in 1998 or whenever, but I think it's Narmed over time. Anyway, minor quibble for a very good book.
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