Published March 7th 2017
Genre: Coming-of-Age, Fiction /Family/Contemporary/YA
Length: 452 pages, Hardcover
Publisher: Clarion Books
Cover Artist: Antonio Castro H.
Ebook ASIN/ISBN: 0544586506 (ISBN13: 9780544586505)
Characters: Salvador Silva, Samantha Diaz, Vicente Silva, Fito Fresqeuz
Blurb: The first day of senior year:
Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.
Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
I’ve delayed reading this because I wanted to read it from my physical copy of the book, and boy, was it worth it! I loved – like, really loved this book! Everything about it is perfection.
Sal, Sam, Mr. V, Fito, Mima, and the rest of its characters were so vibrant that it made me want to meet them in real life and be friends with them. They’re just so alive. Each has its own little story within the book.
Salvador. God, I adore this boy. If I were to have a kid in a few years, I’d want him to grow up just like him. I want to be just like him! He’s mature in so many ways and as innocent as a little kid at times. What a sweet, sweet boy.
If you’ve read the author’s most celebrated book, Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – you’d probably notice the similarity of Sal with Ari and Dante’s character. He’s like the mix of these two well-loved characters.
There’s Samantha. Feisty Sam. The perfect bestfriend. Sam is so different from Sal which balanced out their relationship. I loved Sam.
Sal’s father Vicente or Mr. V. If you’ll read a book entitled “What Makes A Man?” he’s the perfect embodiment of it.
Then there’s poor Fito. My heart goes out to this very determined boy who won’t let bad things in his life hinder his ambition to succeed.
The poetry that is this story is just beyond beautiful. The realistic portrayal of the emotions in it touched my heart and my soul. Centered on family, individuality, and love – the story simply reached out to me with its rich narrative.
With that, I’ve to say that this is the best book I’ve read this year. Just the best.
Benjamin Alire Saenz, you are incomparable!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
About The Author
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.
He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.
In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.
His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.
In The Book of What Remains (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), his fifth book of poems, he writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty and the brutality of border politics mirrors humanity’s capacity for both generosity and cruelty.
In 2005, he curated a show of photographs by Julian Cardona.
He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.