For #WeNeedDiverseBooks Wednesday, I liked how this book had a strongly Puerto Rican family. This was an important facet to the characters, but not an element of the main plot. The boy on the cover looks a LOT like a student I had who was of Puerto Rican descent, which is the whole point of #WeNeedDiverseBooks-- all of my students should be able to see themselves reflected on the covers of books.
Sadly, the author passed away shortly after this book was accepted for publication.
Aust, Patricia H. Shelter
May 9th 2014
by Luminis Books, Inc.
Miguel, whose father insists on calling him Mike, lives in a precarious family situation. His father is very controlling, insisting that Mike and his sister Ellie complete household chores to his exacting specifications. Mike's mother, Mercedes, has born the brunt of the father's abuse, but when he socks her in the chin after an escalating argument that starts with Mike's job of mowing the yard, she has had enough. She packs up the children and heads to a women's shelter, starting the process of getting a restraining order and custody. Ellie is angry that she has to leave her boyfriend, Diego, behind, and Mike is upset about not being able to continue at his Tae Kwon Do dojo, but they are all relieved not to have to live with the constant threat of violence. However, Ellie's continued contact with Diego puts them all in jeopardy when the couple fights and Diego tells the father where the family is living. What will it take for Mike's family to be safe and be able to rebuild their lives?
Strengths: This was an unflinching portrayal of abuse, but I liked how the mother and children were able to remove themselves from the situation and stay strong enough not to go back. It was interesting to see Ellie portrayed as being in a similar relationship, but able to identify the abusive behavior and distance herself from Diego. The different processes, like getting a restraining order and filing for custody, were interesting. For some reason, seventh graders really want problem novels about halfway through the year, and this will be a great addition to my collection
Weaknesses: There is a lot of the narrative that occurs in text messages, complete with abbreviated text style. While I understand why this is done (people would not really be calling each other, and the characters were not near to each other), it was hard to read, and will date the book. In three years, we may all be communicating telepathically or something; books that reference MySpace or have long passages in e mail seem dated already.