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Barely Missing Everything

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  102 reviews
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 better than his mom Fabi’s cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.

His best friend JD has plans, too. He’s going to be
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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Kari | Books For The Living
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.
Tina ( As Told By Tina )
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Shayne Bauer
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gerardo Delgadillo
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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!)
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When realistic fiction is way too realistic.
Peter Quesnel
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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


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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
"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
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
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just had to pick the most emotional books to choose to read today,huh? This book is centered around 3 characters named Juan,J.D. and Fabi. Juan just wants to make it out of El Paso,TX and go to college on a basketball scholarship, while J.D. just wants to be the next great director like his hero Quentin Tarentino. Fabi, however has been stuck at the same bartending position for years,and her love life is pretty much at a standstill. However after Juan has a run in with the police,all of his pl ...more
Juan is an excellent basketball player but he's struggling in school. Then he hurts his ankle really badly when he and his friend JD are running away from the cops at a party. His life just seems to get worse and worse, and there does not seem to be any way out. His friend JD is facing similar trials with dead ends and seemingly no where to turn.

This is a pretty bleak, but sadly realistic, I suppose, look at the lives of brown boys in El Paso, TX. It's a debut novel - and reads like one. This au
Harley Burger
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the very beginning, just reading the title of the first chapter, I knew this book would be good. The more I read the better it became. From the extremely relatable and realistic portrayals of teenagers Juan and JD, to the empathetic heartbreaking perspective of mother Fabi. I loved this book, absolutely loved it. The story line and the way it's written convey such genuine feelings of empathy, loss, struggle, and panic that I feel like I know these characters in real life. It made me cry. Ac ...more
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey! Someday I'm gonna read a YA book that doesn't make me nauseous or cry but today is not that day! This was a beautiful book, every character absolutely sings, the setting is rich and alive, the emotions are gross and real, and then I read the ending and cried a lot because (view spoiler) Or, to quote ...more
A book that felt close. It’s not often that I read books from a male perspective and the way Mendez structure everything among the three main characters was interesting. I felt for each of them. They were written in a way that felt, to me at least, very familiar. I know people who are some version of a JD, Fabi or Juan. I love that. Mendez wrote something that wasn’t perfect, a little cliche at times and rushed at moments but it felt genuine and for that I’ll defintely read whatever else he writ ...more
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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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