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Barely Missing Everything

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  124 reviews
In the tradition of Jason Reynolds and Matt de la Peña, this heartbreaking, no-holds-barred debut novel told from three points of view explores how difficult it is to make it in life when you—your life, brown lives—don’t matter.

Juan has plans. He’s going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself—or at least find something bette
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
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Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m not crying you’re crying 😭
Full review to come

Disclaimer: This author is represented by the agency I work for. While this didn’t affect my opinion of the book, I wanted to be transparent.
This review was originally posted on As Told By TinaI received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Trigger Warnings: Drug Use, Domestic Violence, Gang Violence, Assualt, Murder, Alcohol use, Gun Violence, Racism, Violence, Police Brutality.

I’ve been highly anticipating Barely Missing Everything since the moment it came across my radar back in 2017. When I saw it was finally releasing in 2
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in El Paso, this is a very timely read considering what is going on in our country. It touched on so many bleak issues facing poc, particularly latinos/latinas, that if I list them I'm sure to forget quite a few. In spite of this, the book still manages to maintain an undertone of hope. It can get a bit confusing at times with shifts in points of view, but it in no way ruins the story. This is a great and important read.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review is posted on both my personal account and the account for Crossroads Public Library.

Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

I have no words. Heart is broken. I hate this book.

Everyone read it.
Shayne Bauer
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an important book! This debut young adult novel is representative of an overlooked culture in contemporary literature. I will admit, however, that I had some difficulty with the Spanish dialogue that was not translated. I could determine most of it from context, but I'm sure I missed some important nuances.

The book is written in third person from three different perspectives (one of which is an adult!), but the majority of the character development comes through the dialogue, which I absolu
Brooke Banks
Read for free on Dec 5th 2019.

I loved this. The third person narrative threw me at first, but it really works. As it goes on, it has a bit of "we're all unreliable narrators" type feel going on, as we get bits and pieces of events and have to connect the dots. Which just makes me love it more.

Fabi, Juan's mom, POV was another curve ball. A parental POV in YA? One who was a teen mom? Still struggling working mother? One who actually TALKS about unexpected pregnancies and abortion
Gerardo Delgadillo
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The title, BARELY MISSING EVERYTHING, tells is all. It’s “barely” and “missing” and “everything,” which sounds contradictory, but after you read this book, it’ll all make sense. The story is told in a unusual way: Two teen and one adult narrators. At the beginning, I doubted this was going to work, because this is YA novel, thus I thought adding an adult to the mix would make the novel more adult-ish. It doesn’t. Instead, this POV gives the whole book more depth, if that’s even possible.

The nove
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Juan and his best friend J.D. are trying to put some things together - maybe playing college ball next year, maybe becoming a film maker. But they don’t really know how to put that together and can’t seem to stop derailing themselves. Juan is caught up with a new idea about who his absent father might be. JD is watching his family bust apart. Meanwhile, life keeps pushing them toward graduation and “what’s next,” and they just can’t seem to catch hold of anything good. Tremendously appealing guy ...more
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful. As Juan’s decisions lead from one to another I didn’t realize what we were getting into- but this story is so well crafted it truly felt like we.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When realistic fiction is way too realistic.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is full of pain. The pain of rejection, the pain of disappearing, the pain of failure and the unknown and the physical and, sharpest of all, the pain of disappointing yourself, over and over again, until you forget how to hope for yourself. It's relentless and difficult to read, with tiny rays of sunshine tantalizing enough to make the rest of it hurt more than before.

I super get it, there are no novels about brown lives matter and the voices of boys like Juan and JD and humans like F
Juan is banking on a basketball scholarship, hoping to one day play in the NBA. JD secretly dreams of being a filmmaker. Fabi just wants to survive a second unplanned pregnancy while allowing Juan to thrive. But life is harder for Hispanics living in El Paso, where the police automatically assume the worst about you.

I listened to the audiobook on this, and I kept finding my attention being pulled away from it (particularly during a lengthy algebra test that was just filled with formulas - ouch!)
Jamie Rose
Very good, but very heavy and hard to swallow. They weren't wrong when they called it heartbreaking. ...more
Peter Quesnel
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this, and my head is spinning. I don't want to give out any spoilers, but I will say that I did not see that coming. I first decided I wanted to read Barely Missing Everything because as I was shelving an advanced reader's copy in my library, I glanced through and landed on a page that caught my eye. It was a page that was typeset as if it were in handwriting and had graphs and, of all things, math problems. Algebra equations. On closer inspection, the math was really the ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is everything The Hate U Give was praised for being, except in this case the story is told through the eyes of two Latinx teens and a mother. Third person POV isn't all that common in YA contemporary fiction these days, but Mendez's narrative approach gives us a better perspective of all three characters. This book packs a wallop on all fronts, which is probably when Jason Reynolds begged all us English teachers to read it when the publisher was handing out ARCs at a conference back in ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I was excited to read this- I am always looking for male POVs to share with my students, but ultimately found this story to be rambling and poorly paced. I wanted more at the end, less elsewhere, and generally more direction. Many of the long story threads had little pay off and Fabi’s chapters felt particularly underdeveloped. Some interesting characters but in need of some strong editing.
Victoria (Latte Nights Reviews)
This review was originally posted on Latte Nights Reviews.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.I'm excited to bring another review to you, this time I'm doing things a little differently and listing five reasons why you should read Barely Missing Everything. I started reading an eARC for this, but also had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook as well, so one of my recommendations is for the n

Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Matt Mendez’s emotionally demanding Barely Missing Everything (2019) explores the lives of working-class Mexican Americans living in El Paso, TX. A teenage boy named Juan anchors the text, which focalizes his experiences as well as those of his mother, Fabi, and his best friend, JD.

Juan and JD are high school seniors planning life after high school, but just barely. They both have hazy visions of the future. JD, a film enthusiast, aspires to make movies an
Loretta McInnis
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m giving this book three stars, though I’m not sure it’s a fair assessment. I had high expectations as I began reading, being a native El Pasoan myself. From the start, the story grabbed me and drew me in. I found myself “navigating” the neighborhoods with ease, laughing at the inside jokes about the city and its culture, easily understanding where the characters were coming from. I soon became critical, however, as I ran into what I perceived to be unforgivable errors in lingo, the spelling o ...more
cody sealey
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am a young high school English teacher, and I read this book while co-teaching a class of ESL students. My mentor teacher chose this book for the class hoping that they would relate to it. The fact that it focused on two Latinx boys and a mom made me hope for a better reading experience for them. While I did not like it (more on that in a sec), I was disappointed to find that many of my students (many first or second generation Latinx immigrants) didn't connect with it. After assigning them to ...more
I love RivetedLit's 25 Days of Free Reads in December. I look forward to it every year because it gives me the chance to read some YA I haven't heard of or otherwise wouldn't have read. Barely Missing Everything wasn't on my TBR, and so I'm glad I got the chance to read it.

Barely Missing Everything is very much in the vein of Jason Reynold's All American Boys. It centers around three characters: Juan, a teenage Mexican-American basketball player, his best friend and budding filmmaker J.D., an
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, audio
This YA novel told the story of two Mexican-American teens in Texas and took a hard look at the struggles they faced because of discrimination, lack of opportunities and poor choices. The book begins with the perspectives of Juan and JD, best friends who are seniors and on the basketball team together. Juan is a good player who has a possibility of a small college recruiting him, but when he hurts his ankle running from the cops at an underage drinking party, his chances are in jeopardy. JD, an ...more
Abby E.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Barely Missing Everything" by Matt Mendez was an absolutely fantastic read. Told through the viewpoints of three characters, it gives us a very thorough insight on the life the characters have in El Paso. Juan is our “main” character, and throughout this book it tells us the story of a boy struggling to succeed despite what seems to be the entire world working against him. JD is his friend, a more carefree foil to the serious life of Juan, and the third viewpoint I thought was incredibly specia ...more
Anna Garza
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. The plot centers around best friends Juan and JD they are high-school students in a border town. They have big dreams and limited opportunities. Juan and JD are always making jokes and sticking together. They feel the pressure of being brown and poor and are trying to find a way out of the place they grew up in. There are countless things holding them back including family drama, the local gang, and the questionable policing of their community. These two will have you ro ...more
Barely Missing Everything's main topic is prescient and urgent to exposing some of the fallacies that are exhibited in "The American Dream" and a realistic portrayal of teenage thought and life both in general and the consistent awareness of being a minority in every single aspect that that implies: race, ethnicity, class. Descriptive nuances of deliberate microaggressions of prejudice are prevalent, which makes it a decent book but not appropriate for my students as an assigned book -- primaril ...more
Matt Mendez has created characters that you will love like your own family and then break your heart like only your family can. The story of Juan, J. D., and Fabi each have stories that show how your actions affect those around you and how you can never escape your past. Mendez writes in a way that you understand a narrator completely. He doesn’t use unrealistic vocabulary or create impossible situations. The situations his characters find himself in are very real and therefore very tragic becau ...more
Pine Reads Review
Juan, a senior in high school, sprains his ankle while being chased by the police (for no good reason), jeopardizing what might be his only shot at a future out of poverty: basketball. JD, Juan’s best friend and film aficionado, sees his family life unravel due to his father’s unfaithfulness. Fabi, Juan’s mother, is pregnant and unsure whether she should get an abortion. While Juan tries to heal his ankle and pass an algebra test to stay on the team and be seen by a college scout, he becomes con ...more
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had very high hopes for this book -- but it just doesn't hit the mark for me. I failed to connect to any of the characters. Juan and JD are survival focused - with good reason. Their lives basically suck. Juan's mom, Fabi is 32 or 33 - with an 18 year old son, and she is not a good mother. She is clueless in her own life and her son's life. Everything about her is static - she hasn't changed anything about her life since Juan was born -- crappy apartment, crappy job, crappy relationships. Juan ...more
Jeffrey G
Mar 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
When I started reading this, I didn't know anything about it. I didn't have to read too far before I figured out what it was going to be about. After that, it was an excruciating waiting game as the author moved his characters around the chess board to the inevitable climax. I felt nothing when the protagonist came to the end of his storyline. The book is political. As usual with these sorts of books, you will agree with the politics, but you will also be annoyed at how they bring the story (to ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. It draws a clear picture of the impact of systemic racism and I could see using the book to work through that theme in my classroom. But I just didn’t feel anything for the characters, who seemed two-dimensional, and the ending was predictable. I would be interested to see if younger readers found the characters most realistic than I did.

I recently read Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys, which explores systemic racism as well but is a
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Matt Mendez has worked on airplanes all of his adult life and is the author of the short story collection Twitching and the YA novel Barely Missing Everything. His stories have appeared in Huizache, The Acentos Review, BorderSenses, Pank, The Literary Review, and other places. Barely Missing Everything was named a 2019 Best YA Book by Kirkus, Seventeen Magazine, NBC Latino, and Texas Monthly. Matt ...more

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