September 1st 2014 by Lerner Classroom
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Jose is trying very hard to do well at Rondo Alternative high school, but he has more problems than school to worry about. His mother and father are undocumented immigrants, and he lives with them, an aunt, and her children. He is the best English speaker in the house, so he must interpret. Ten years earlier, his father was injured on a construction site, and Jose blames himself for the extent of the injuries because he could not translate accurately. He thought “intoxicado” meant “drunk”, but his father actually had a significant stroke and was taken to jail instead of the hospital, making his recovery much more difficult and less successful. Jose must work several jobs to support his family and save for college, but the pressures and time commitment make it hard for him to do well in school.
Strengths: Like the Surviving Southside books, this is a short book for reluctant readers. The high school setting is appealing to my students, who don’t want to be seen reading “baby” books, and problem novels are also popular with struggling readers. Jose is a good kid, but his struggles are portrayed realistically. I thought that the prose in this book was far superior to that in many hi/lo books I’ve read, so Mr. Jones is to be applauded for this!
Weaknesses: While it is good to see Mexican Americans portrayed in books, we do need more books about middle class Latinos where their ethnicity is just part of the characters and not the whole story. It’s good to have both kinds of books, though, and this will be an excellent addition to my school collection.