Mexican WhiteBoy
Mexican WhiteBoy

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Annotation: Sixteen-year-old Danny searches for his identity amidst the confusion of being half-Mexican and half-white while spending a summer with his cousin and new friends on the baseball fields and back alleys of San Diego County, California.
Catalog Number: #43799
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition Date: c2008
Pages: 249 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-440-23938-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-43288-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-440-23938-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-43288-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2007032302
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Biracial Danny Lopez doesn't think he fits anywhere. He feels like an outsider with his Mexican father's family, with whom he is staying for the summer, and at his mostly white school, and he wonders if his confusion drove his father away. He also struggles with his obsession for baseball; a gifted player with a blazing fastball, he lacks control of his game. With the support of a new friend and his caring cousins, Danny begins to deal with the multitude of problems in his life, which include his tendency to cut himself, an unusual characteristic in a male YA protagonist. The author juggles his many plotlines well, and the portrayal of Danny's friends and neighborhood is rich and lively. Where the story really lights up is in the baseball scenes, which sizzle like Danny's fastball. A violent scene, left somewhat unresolved, is the catalyst for him to confront the truth about his father. Danny's struggle to find his place will speak strongly to all teens but especially to those of mixed race.
Horn Book
The one place Danny feels accepted is the baseball field. He imagines becoming a star, making his father proud enough to return from Mexico. This fast-paced baseball story is unique in its gritty realism, framed in the context of broken homes and bicultural pressures. De la Pena poignantly conveys the message that, despite obstacles, you must shape your own future.
Kirkus Reviews
Angry with his Caucasian mother and feeling removed from his Hispanic heritage, 16-year-old Danny decides to spend the summer with his father's relatives in an attempt to re-forge his identity. It's a busy summer—he's both running a pitching scam with Uno, a disillusioned interracial teenager, and falling in love with Liberty, a recently arrived immigrant. Danny's sophomoric plan to find his missing dad reflects a balance between idealism and stupidity, especially since astute readers will quickly deduce the whereabouts of his father. While Danny's self-inflicted wounds are physical manifestations of his identity crisis, de la Pena depends too heavily on the absent-parent motif for emotional justification. Danny's internal voice occasionally grates, but the earnest emotions portrayed in his imagined letters to his father easily correct for this. Boisterous adult characters serve as outstanding foils for Danny and his friends, especially Senior, Uno's domineering father, who is given to rodomontade. Though not an out-of-the-park follow-up to 2005's Ball Don't Lie, de la Pena blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity. (Fiction. YA)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up No matter where he lives, 16-year-old Danny Lopez is an outsider. At his private high school in wealthy northern San Diego County, "nobody paid him any attentionbecause he was Mexican." It didn't matter that he was half white. But when he visits the Mexican side of his family in National City, just a dozen miles from the border, Danny feels "Albino almost" and ashamed. He doesn't even speak Spanish. Rather than learning to blend in, Danny disengages from both worlds, rarely speaking and running his mind in circles with questions about how he might have kept his absent father from leaving the family. He decides to spend the summer in National City, hoping to get closer to his dad's roots and learn how to be "real" and stop feeling numb. Instead, he finds that, by the end of the summer, he has filled the void through unexpected friendship and love. In this first-rate exploration of self-identity, Danny's growth as a baseball pitcher becomes a metaphor for the conflicts he must overcome due to his biracial heritage. Dialogue written in a coarse street vernacular and interwoven with Spanish is awkward to read at firstlike Danny, readers are made to feel like outsiders among the hard-edged kids of National City. But as the characters develop, their language starts to feel familiar and warm, and their subtle tenderness becomes more apparent. A mostly linear plot (with occasional flashbacks), plenty of sports action, and short chapters make this book a great pick for reluctant or less-experienced readers. Madeline Walton-Hadlock, San Jose Public Library, CA
Voice of Youth Advocates
Parallel lives intersect as Danny Lopez spends the summer with his Mexican father's relatives, although he does not really fit in because he is half-white and does not speak a word of Spanish. Almost immediately, Danny comes into conflict with African American Uno during a baseball mishap. Slowly before readers' eyes, both boys' worlds develop. Senior, Uno's father, has found religious reformation and is trying to impart wisdom onto his son, whereas Danny plans to fly farther south and track down his dad in Mexico. De la Pe±a does an excellent job of showing readers the potential his characters possess and what they will have to pursue in the days ahead. Danny's cousin Sofia is Uno's romantic interest and she also seems on the cusp of making strong, positive choices for herself. Readers come to care for both Danny and Uno as they finally come together through the sport they both love. Everyone in the book faces mountains of obstacles, and in a fantastic move by the author that is not cloying or obvious, they also have the temerity to overcome them. De la Pe±a makes their world feel real by not shying away from the harsh realities. Readers see themselves in Danny, Uno, and Sofia, whether or not they share their backgrounds. In the end, they find themselves wanting the characters to succeed.-Matthew Weaver.
Word Count: 65,712
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 124044 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.2 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q44556
Lexile: 680L
Dressed in a well-worn Billabong tee, camo cargo shorts and a pair of old-school slip-on Vans, Danny Lopez follows his favorite cousin, Sofia, as she rolls up on the cul-de-sac crowd with OG swagger.

A bunch of heads call out to her, "Hey, Sofe!" "Yo, girl!" "There she is!" and wave.

Sofia waves back, pulls Danny by the arm toward a group of girls sitting on a blanket in an uneven semicircle. "Oye putas," she says. "Yo, this my cousin Danny I was telling you about. He's gonna be staying with me for the summer." She smiles big--proud, Danny thinks. "Yo, cuz, these are my girls." She points them out and rattles off names: "Carmen, Raquel, Angela, Bee, Juanita, Flaca and Guita."

"Hey," the girls singsong in unison.

Danny nods with a shy smile, aims his eyes at the asphalt. He feels the heat of their stares and for a second he wishes he could morph into one of the ants zigzagging in and out of tiny crevices in the street. Their little lives, he thinks, totally off the radar.

Danny's sixteen, a shade over six foot and only a year younger than Sofia, but unless he's on a pitching mound he feels like a boy. He's long and thin with skinny arms hanging down skinny thighs--his arm length the reason he can fire a fastball so hard. His shoulders are wide, but his muscles have yet to catch up. Sometimes when he sees himself in a mirror it looks like his shirt is propped up by an upside-down coat hanger. Not a human body. Doesn't even look real.

And Danny's brown. Half-Mexican brown. A shade darker than all the white kids at his private high school, Leucadia Prep. Up there, Mexican people do under-the-table yard work and hide out in the hills because they're in San Diego illegally. Only other people on Leucadia's campus who share his shade are the lunch-line ladies, the gardeners, the custodians. But whenever Danny comes down here, to National City--where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live--he feels pale. A full shade lighter. Albino almost.

Less than.

"And just so you know," Sofia adds, "Danny ain't no big talker, all right? He's mad smart, gets nothin' but A's at the best private school in San Diego, but don't get your chones in a bunch if you can't never pull him into a convo." Sofia looks prettier than Danny remembers. Less of a tomboy. Her hair long now, makeup around her eyes.
Carmen clears her throat, says: "He don't need to talk to give me no deep-tissue massage." She gives Danny an exaggerated wink.

"Ain't need no words for us to soak in a nice Jacuzzi bath together," Flaca says. She reaches out, puts her hand on one of Danny's Vans. "We can just sit there, Papi. Backs against them jet thingies. Take turns sippin' a little white Zin and shit. How's that sound, beautiful?"

Danny gives her a polite smile, but inside he's shrinking. He's trying to suck back into his shell, like a poked and prodded snail.

Behind his back he grips his left wrist, digs his fingernails into the skin until a sharp pain floods his mind, makes him feel real.

Angela and Bee comb Danny over with their almond-shaped eyes, devour his out-of-place surfer style like a pack of rabid dogs. Danny cringes at how different he must seem to his cousin's friends. They're all dark chocolate-colored, hair sprayed up, dressed in pro jerseys and Dickies, Timberlands. Gold and silver chains. Calligraphy-style tats. Danny's skin is too clean, too light, his clothes too soft.

Excerpted from Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Pena
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Newbery Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Matt de la Peña's Mexican WhiteBoy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.

Danny is tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound, he loses it.

But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny is brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.

That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. But to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see--the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.

Matt de la Peña's critically acclaimed novel is an intimate and moving story that offers hope to those who least expect it.

"[A] first-rate exploration of self-identity."
--SLJ

"Unique in its gritty realism and honest portrayal of the complexities of life for inner-city teens...de la Peña poignantly conveys the message that, despite obstacles, you must believe in yourself and shape your own future." --The Horn Book Magazine

"The baseball scenes...sizzle like Danny's fastball. Danny's struggle to find his place will speak strongly to all teens, but especially to those of mixed race." --Booklist

"De la Peña blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity." --Kirkus Reviews

"Mexican WhiteBoy...shows that no matter what obstacles you face, you can still reach your dreams with a positive attitude. This is more than a book about a baseball player--this is a book about life." --Curtis Granderson, New York Mets outfielder

An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

A Junior Library Guild Selection


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