He Forgot to Say Goodbye
He Forgot to Say Goodbye
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Annotation: Two teenaged boys with very different lives find that they share a common bond--fathers they have never met who left when they were small boys--and in spite of their differences, they become close when they each need someone who understands. Contains Mature Material
Catalog Number: #4026039
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Mature Content Mature Content
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition Date: 2008
Pages: 321 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-416-94963-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-416-94963-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2007021959
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove live very different lives but have much in common. Wealthy, white Jake lives on the "Oh-Wow West Side" of El Paso, and Mexican American Ram lives in the poor neighborhood, "Dizzy Land." Both boys wonder how different their lives might be if their dads had stuck around. Told from multiple perspectives and starting with a leisurely introspective pace, the story picks up after Ram's younger brother lands on life support after a drug-overdose-induced coma. As Ram sits with his brother, he decides that "sometimes hope made you keep holding on to something that you should let go of." Ram's mother calls Ram her angel, and their relationship is beautifully developed. The friendship between the boys evolves naturally and widens to include shoot-from-the-hip sidekick Alejandra. Both boys' journey to acceptance will be meaningful for teens, who often wish for different parents. S. E. Hinton's Outsider fans will enjoy this alternate look at social class, loyalty, family unity, and the importance of belonging, from the author of Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood (2004).
Kirkus Reviews
Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove, teenage residents of El Paso, Texas, voice their anguish at growing up without their biological fathers. By default, Ramiro assumes the head-of-the-house role while mentoring his drug-addicted younger brother. Jake erupts with sarcasm and anger due to the tension and frustration of being without adult male guidance, placing him in constant conflict with his needy mother. Contrasting the two lives—Ramiro's in the barrio and Jake's among the upper-middle-class—the narrative reveals the challenges both boys face while growing into manhood. Their first-person accounts alternate, a style that makes the prose read like an oral testimony or a confession. There are poignant moments throughout the story, but dated slang will alienate teen readers: Jake repeatedly says, "Can you dig it," and "It destroyed me." Many conflicts and plot tangents clutter the boys' narratives, causing the work to ramble on far too long to maintain teen interest. Still, this is one of the few young-adult novels offering a realistic portrayal of life along the southern border. (Fiction. YA)
Voice of Youth Advocates
Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove live in the same town but lead very different lives. Ram is Mexican American and lives on the poorer side of town with his mother and younger brother, who has started stealing to support his drug habit. Jake lives with his wealthy mother and stepfather in privilege, but he is angry and frustrated with them and with himself. What both boys have in common is that their fathers abandoned them when they were young. The repercussions of that abandonment continue to haunt them, coloring their perceptions of the world and of themselves. Eventually the boys cross paths, enrich each other's lives, and are able to move ahead with the business of becoming men. Although it takes some time for the two protagonists to make a connection, their individual stories are captivating and heartfelt. Emotional suspense builds throughout the novel. The affirming and hopeful ending is well-earned for the characters and a great payoff for the reader. Most characters are well-developed and complex, particularly Ram, Jake, Ram's mom, and Ram's best friend, Alejandra. Jake's parents do not fare as well and are somewhat one-dimensional (rich, self-centered WASPs who only care about themselves and appearances), but it is really not their story. Overall it is a strong novel with broad teenage appeal, despite its unfortunately cheesy title.-Alice F. Stern.
Word Count: 85,619
Reading Level: 3.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.3 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 123406 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:2.6 / points:21.0 / quiz:Q44811
Lexile: HL480L

"I mean, it's not as if I want a father. I have a father. It's just that I don't know who he is or where he is. But I have one."

Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove don't appear to have much in common. Ram lives in the Mexican-American working-class barrio of El Paso called "Dizzy Land." His brother is sinking into a world of drugs, wreaking havoc in their household. Jake is a rich West Side white boy who has developed a problem managing his anger. An only child, he is a misfit in his mother's shallow and materialistic world. But Ram and Jake do have one thing in common: They are lost boys who have never met their fathers. This sad fact has left both of them undeniably scarred and obsessed with the men who abandoned them. As Jake and Ram overcome their suspicions of each other, they begin to move away from their loner existences and realize that they are capable of reaching out beyond their wounds and the neighborhoods that they grew up in. Their friendship becomes a healing in a world of hurt.

San Antonio Express-News wrote, "Benjamin Alire Sáenz exquisitely captures the mood and voice of a community, a culture, and a generation"; that is proven again in this beautifully crafted novel.

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