Review by Booklist Review
Marcos Rivas is an inner-city kid stuck with a bad home situation and no apparent way out, even through school, where he's a high-school sophomore. He's got some good friends he plays basketball with, but that's the highlight. That is, until the new principal enrolls him in a mentorship program, along with a few other kids nominated by their teachers as students with great potential but poor grades. Marcos begins to think that maybe he's not so alone. Aceves' debut draws some inspiration from his own experiences growing up in a similar community as Marcos, and expertly tells a success story that'll have readers cheering by the end. Marcos' point of view is one certainly shared by other kids his age who are taught to keep their feelings inside, or to solve their problems with violence. Here's a novel about that kid readers all know or are themselves who deserves to have a shot at life, and hopes that good choices and hard work from friends can get him there. An inspirational read.--Pino, Kristina Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In a poor neighborhood in central Tampa, Fla., sophomore Marcos Rivas is more worried about avoiding his mother's abusive, racist boyfriend than about getting good grades. But he also yearns to escape poverty and maybe even get a date with Amy, a classmate with blue-streaked hair and a no-nonsense attitude ("All my life I've seen how couples match, in skin or style, and then I get a crush on a white girl who listens to punk"). Aceves sets his first novel in a vividly described community plagued by the familiar demons of addiction, crime, and abuse, as well as rampant racism. Marcos's narration springs to life as he struggles with complex problems. His best friend is dealing drugs, and his mother-who was 16 when she became pregnant-doesn't really know how to take care of herself, much less him. Through new friends in Marcos's after-school program, he realizes that he isn't alone, an epiphany that permeates the balance of the novel. It's a memorable, hard-hitting portrait of a teenager trying to shape his own destiny after being dealt a difficult hand. Ages 14-up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Marcos Rivas's mother doesn't care about him and never has. She allows her racist boyfriend to abuse the 15-year-old and spends her money on vodka instead of replacing Marcos's holey sneakers and tattered T-shirts. A checked-out mother isn't the only challenge facing the teen, who is growing up in the impoverished neighborhood of Maesta. Marcos typically doesn't even try at school; with no one to believe in him, why would he believe in himself? When a teacher recommends him for a class geared toward underachieving, bright students, he initially assumes his usual prankster role, refusing to learn. Slowly, Marcos begins to realize that while the people you think should care the most might fail you, there are others who won't. A group of quirky and loyal friends and a couple of supportive teachers ultimately provide what his mother cannot: a sense of family and the inspiration to try. The theme of finding family in unexpected places is valuable, and heavy subject material is balanced by ample doses of comedy. The book's nuanced character development is noteworthy, especially as evidenced in Marcos's attitudes toward his evolving friendship with Amy, his major girl crush. While romance features in the novel, it doesn't tie up neatly, lending greater verisimilitude to the work. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and for readers who appreciate gritty and introspective realistic fiction with a sense of humor.-Melissa Williams, Berwick Academy, ME © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
Marcos Rivas wants to escape his inner-city neighborhood and abusive home life, so he jumps at the chance to attend Future Success, an afterschool class to help underachievers become achievers. As his home situation worsens, Marcos learns that education can be the answer to his problems, but that he needs to take the first step. Marcoss contemporary-teen language rings true, and his experiences are authentic. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A young Latino man grows up in a poor neighborhood in Tampa in this debut that follows him through his sophomore year of high school.Marcos Rivas aches for a relationship with his mom, who does nothing to protect him from her racist, white, live-in boyfriend's physical and verbal abuse. Marcos is keenly lonely despite the company of a tight band of ethnically diverse boys that includes his kind and smart best friend, Obie, a black boy, who shocks and worries Marcos when he decides to start delivering drugs to make money; they all feel the constant weight of poverty pressing upon them. Marcos' authentic, thoughtful, empathic internal voice makes it evident from the start that he is stretched between two worlds: one in which any expression of emotions must be concealed and another in which he feels guilty for pranking his teachers, listens both to hip-hop and to the Smiths, and is afraid of dogs. When he's recommended for a new class at school that identifies bright students who are underachieving, he falls hard for white, punk, tough Amy, a fellow classmate. Aceves infuses the narrative with insight about class, ethnicity, and the intricacies of power between teens and adults, the vitality of Marcos and his friends holding rapt both readers who recognize their world and those who don't.Heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.