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Mexican WhiteBoy Paperback – January 12, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ember (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440239389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440239383
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Danny is constantly out of place, or at least that's how he sees it. He has a gift for pitching-his lanky arms can throw a baseball fast enough to get noticed by any coach or college scout-but he loses his cool on the mount. His mother is a blue-eyed blonde, but the color of his skin sets him apart at the private school he attends in San Diego, where he isn't "white enough." He isn't "Mexican enough" for the barrio either though. He looks Mexican so everyone assumes he speaks Spanish, but he doesn't. He can throw a baseball 95 miles per hour but isn't on any team. All in all, he is out of place. When he spends the summer with relatives in his dad's old neighborhood, Danny becomes convinced that if he saves up enough money he can go to Mexico and find his father. Danny is desperate to find his place in this world and develop a sense of self, longings that will ring true with any teen. Narrator Herny Leyva effortlessly eases among various tones, accents, and languages, creating an audio experience with a lot of depth. This is an essential purchase for communities serving Latinos, urban, and reluctant readers.—Katie Llera, Bound Brook High School, NJ --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From 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. Grades 9-12. --Lynn Rutan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Matt de la Peña's debut novel, Ball Don't Lie, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick and was made into a major motion picture. His second novel, Mexican WhiteBoy, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adult (Top Ten Pick), a Notable Book for a Global Society, a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book. His third novel, We Were Here, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Readers, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. His fourth book, I Will Save You, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Readers, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection and finalist for the 2011 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. De la Peña's fifth book, The Living, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults and a Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.

His short fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, NPR.org and various literary journals, including Pacific Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, Two Girls' Review, The George Mason Review, and The Allegheny Review. De la Peña received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. You can visit Matt and find out more about his books at mattdelapena.com and follow him on Twitter at @mattdelapena.

Customer Reviews

The characters seem real.
Sheela
I really sad that this book ended because I just wanted more.
Sofia Galvez
A definite read for high school age students through adult.
Tracey Chagolla

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. D. Charney on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
One of the most crucial thematic moments in "Mexican WhiteBoy," Matt de la Peña's new novel about a half-white, half-Mexican teenager struggling with his identity, happens when the father of his best friend, Uno, discusses poverty: "It's people who wander into your city, Uno. They the only ones who could see your life for what it is. National City, boy. Ain't but a forgotten slice of America's finest city. And you know what's on the tip of all y'all's tongues? Each and every one of y'all?"

The word he is getting at is "money," or some variation thereof, and the setting for his sermon is San Diego County, one of America's many cultural conundrums, where well-to-do whites inhabit plush beachfront property just miles from the border with impoverished Tijuana. De la Peña explored poverty in his previous book, "Ball Don't Lie," but this time he probes deeper, suggesting that the forces that divide us are far more complicated than class and race combined. Instead, all Americans reside on a hazy border between confusion and self-realization.

Raised by his white mother but sent to live with his father's Mexican family for the summer, title character Danny is caught between two worlds and two identities. At his upscale prep school where he was cut from the baseball team - because, in spite of his powerful pitching arm, he tends to choke on the mound - he is a "lowly" Mexican. But here, in a poor Hispanic neighborhood, he's a white boy with a brilliant mind (though he rarely speaks it) and a bright future.

During his stay, Danny befriends Uno, whose father is black and whose mother is Mexican. Both boys long for their fathers. Danny's is supposedly in Mexico; Uno's is a few hours north in Oxnard.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nora Jones on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am not a boy, I am not Mexican and I am no longer a teenager but I could relate to Danny. More than that I cared what happened to him. As I turned the pages I was angry with him, disconnected, in pain or feeling his triumphs. And that is just on Danny, what about Senior. I couldn't be farther from Senior when you compare our stats but when his words were on the page I would read and reread them feeling the need to absorb. I can't say enough about this book. Mexican White Boy is a brilliant piece of writing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Van Buren on October 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The great strength of the story is the relationship between Danny and Uno, two kids who start out as rivals and end up the best of friends. The author does an excellent job of telling each of their stories, of presenting them in a way that lets me understand the issues they face, even though I come from an entirely different background. The story is extremely entertaining and well-paced, often combining moments of laugh-out-loud comedy with traces of melancholy and even sadness. Whether you're a baseball fan or not, you'll enjoy the story of these two kids as they navigate the pitfalls of teenage life, cope with family issues, and listen to the preaching of Uno's hilarious (and at times insightful) father, Senior.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bookish Brooklynite on September 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
MEXICAN WHITEBOY is a gripping read that feeds off the depth and magnetism of its characters, the grit and strength of its writing, and its bold and risky themes. De la Pena has drawn a two-perspective portrait of what it means to encompass racial duality and the desire to define ones identity. As the follow-up to his break-out debut hit, BALL DON'T LIE, de la Pena does not disappoint. His ability to write with confidence in urban prose proves he's no poser and his obvious natural ability to draw unique and fascinating characters makes this book relatable to any reader of any age. MEXICAN WHITEBOY dares readers to take a look at the harder, more complex and literary side of "YA" and its edge is certain to cut deep and stay with you long after you're done.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lit head on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great, sweet, funny story about friendship and love set in gritty National City, San Diego. Danny is half Mexican and half white, as the title implies, and he doesn't know where that leaves him in terms of fitting in. Eventual friend Uno is in a similar boat. This is a top-notch exploration of bi-racial space by the author of Ball Don't Lie. Highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mthanna on November 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great text for struggling readers, Mexican Whiteboy is a great novel to recommend to younger boys who do not enjoy reading. With a lot of talk of baseball and conflict with his father, our main character Danny is a likeable kid. He leaves his mainly white, upper class neighborhood to spend the summer with his cousin in the town where his dad grew up, which is filled primarily with Mexican Americans. Danny wins the respect of the other boys because he is a really gifted baseball player. After he gets off to a rocky start with Uno, who used to be the best ball player around. Eventually, the two become friends and run hustles on kids from other neighborhoods to make some cash. Both boys deal with absent fathers and Danny deals with his identity crisis of being half-white and half-Mexican, especially when he falls in love with a young girl who only speaks Spanish, something he never learned.
My favorite part of this text was the dialogue amongst the kids. De La Pena does a good job of writing teenages who speak like teenagers. I often found myself smiling while reading the kids ribbing on each other. I felt like I became part of their group of friends. Danny also deals with self-harm, which I think is a very important topic to broach with today's youth. I appreciated that Mexican Whiteboy has an example of a male dealing with self-harm, which is a struggle usually associated with girls. This text shows a likable, athletic, boy dealing with trauma and emotions, something that is often ignored or discouraged in young men.
And this is a definitely a text aimed at young men. If, like me, you are not particularly interested in baseball (or even sports in general) you can often feel like the novel is dragging a little. However, I would definitely recommend it to boys, especially ones dealing with anxiety or other emotional issues. I think this text could really help a young person feel less alone.
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