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Fighting for Dontae
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Fighting for Dontae

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  51 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Javier's life is going nowhere fast. He hates seventh grade, his father's locked up, and his mother can't be relied on. He and his friends are in a gang; but he doesn't even know why he joined the Playaz in the first place, since hanging with them is like asking for trouble from the cops. When he is assigned to work with the special education class, Javier thinks that the ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Holiday House
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Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Mike Castan’s heart is in the right place with Fighting for Dontae, which he dedicates from “one-at-risk student to another”. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it because of its stereotypes.

First, there is Castan’s portrayal of Latin American youth. Main character Javier is poor and belongs to a gang. He is so poor that his family doesn’t have a television or cell phone, nor can they afford for him to buy new clothes for school or attend the movies. To fit in with the gang, Javier wears a white t
Nov 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ya, mg, 2012
Javier’s life is already set out for him, and he’s just entering middle school. He lives with his mom, who struggles with money and drugs. Sometimes his father’s around, when he’s between jail trips. Dontae and his friends are supposed to be in a gang and are constantly being asked to prove their own toughness. Javier struggles with all of this plus the fact that he likes to read and doesn’t actually want to court trouble, let alone be in it. When his school assigns him a service project working ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This story depicts the struggles of a young man and his friends in the inner city. Javier is in seventh grade and joins a gang because the gang says so - they jump him and after being badly beaten in the initation he is in, no choice in the matter. But he does chose to stay as out of things as possible. Students will understand his struggle to be himself, when the friends he has grown up with turn to drug use and violence. His father is in and out of jail, more in than out. When he comes home th ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Seventh-grader Javier is nervous about starting middle school in his Hispanic neighborhood, an unwilling member of a gang, and unhappy with his family life. His three good friends and his love of reading bring him some satisfaction, but he seems to be yearning for a more connected and meaningful life. He’s dismayed to learn his work-study job is as an aide to the Special Ed. Class, but it is there that he is able to calm his mind and gain the strength to face each day. He’s always been observant ...more
Seventh grader Javier is heading downhill fast. He and his friends are drawn into the fringes of the gangsta life simply because there's nothing much to do and there's no money to much of anything. School has always been boring, for the most part, and when he is assigned to work with the youngsters in a special education class, he is less than thrilled since he knows that his peers will ridicule him. But for some reason, he connects with a boy named Dontae, who loves having Javier read a book by ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gangs
SLJ Gr 6-8-On the first day of seventh grade, Javier's English class is visiting the library when the special ed kids arrive. Not only does Javier steal a book for himself, but he also hands Lanzo, a nonverbal child, a book that he was eyeing. When student jobs are announced later that week, Javier is dismayed to learn that he will be helping with the special ed class, and he's convinced that his life, as far as his middle school social status is concerned, is effectively over. Javier's dad is i ...more
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Javier is just starting 7th grade. He is reluctantly in the local gang, his mom is a recovering tweeker, his dad is in jail more than he is home and all but 3 of his friends have disappeared. They are either lost to meth, in juvie or their parents have managed to get them out of the town Obre Nuevo. The only thing Javier has going for him is his social status. He is neither bottom of the barrel or top dog. He is happy in the middle. But he knows this is at risk when he gets assigned as a student ...more
Lavabearian (Jessica)
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Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fighting for Dontae centers around Javier, a young man living in a rundown town in California, where it's expect, and enforced, that he joins the gang that runs his block. His father is in and out of prison most of the time and his mother struggles with drug addiction while Javier tries to decide what kind of life he wants to live. At first he figures that this is it, that there is no getting out of the gang life. On the second day of seventh grade he is assigned to work as a Special Ed. Aide. A ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a good book for middle school libraries. It has a positive message and one students need.

However, I'm not sure that the students who are living this life will find Javier realistic. His father is in and out of jail and his mother is on and off of drugs and he belongs to a gang and yet he still manages to get to school every day and stay out of trouble. It is possible. But...

Students working with special education students can be a very positive thing and in Javier's case, a real motivat
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gateway-books
I've been recommending this book for years to my students without having read it myself. My students said it as good and I took their word.

I finally read it and my students were right.

The main character reminds me of Ponyboy from The Outsiders. He's in a gang yet he's also a dreamy reader. There are also absentee parents: Ponyboy's an orphan while these parents are in jail and too busy to deal with their son.

There's all sorts of stuff parents would disapprove of: drugs, cursing, alcoholism, gang
It's been almost a year since I read this (wow, time flies!). It's probably great for reluctant readers, but I really didn't get how the book could be called Fighting for Dontae. The particular friendship between Javier and Dontae is not the main plot in my opinion; it's more that Javier finds something productive to make his life a little better, which happens to be reading to Dontae. There is an apparent disconnect between the title and what happens in the story, so I didn't recommend it to a ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. I picked it up as a possibility for Cafe Book and while I'm not sure it is a Cafe Book, Book.. it is one I think that many teenagers should read. I loved the growth of Javier throughout the story as he works more and more with the special needs class at work. I also enjoyed seeing him struggle with the gang related issues and him deciding he didn't want to be like that. I thought it was really sweet how attached Javier became to Dontae. I really really enjoyed ...more
Ann Marie
Jul 12, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a quick and easy read...recommend for the fourth and fifth grade summer reading list...maybe a sixth grade...Javiers life is not the best but it is still better than Dontaes...fate connects the two and so the story is written...the story is one of tolerance - which everyone needs to learn...the title would lead one to believe it is a physically violent book but there really is no fight for Dontae...the story is more about Javier and his ability to cope with everything
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A story of remorse and redemption, and a solid choice for reluctant middle grade readers from urban environments. They will recognize the temptation from the 'easy' gang side and the hope of the college bound, or at least hopeful, kids from the lower classes. I was rooting for Dontae all the way.
Anne Harlan
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels-for-10-14
I was engaged by this book, but ended up feeling disappointed. Too many little details are unrealistic. Maybe if it had a different title I would like it better. Javier never fights for Dontae either physically or metaphorically. The book is not about Dontae; his name shouldn't be in the title.
Ms. Yingling
Jul 15, 2012 rated it liked it
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. Main character of color who loved to read and is fighting difficult circumstances, who learns to champion the underdog. Great stuff. However, there was also foul language, a lot of casual drug use, and a small problem with unstable focus. Drat.
Great Books
Mar 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ages-12-14
Seventh-grader Javier is hanging with the Playaz, a street gang. He gets assigned to help with the special ed class at school where he meets Dontae, a severly disabled boy his own age. Could this be Javier's chance to change?
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Mar 26, 2015
Laurisa Reyes
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Jun 12, 2012
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Tyler Tarpey
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Jan 29, 2016
Gabriel Hinojosa
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Apr 12, 2016
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Jul 22, 2012
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Mike Castan is a writer who has been an actor and a middle-grade substitute teacher. He lives in California.
More about Mike Castan...