From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Carlos has a new job at the Long Beach Contemporary, a local art museum. His accounts of hanging with his friends Snake and Will at the bleachers, seeing a bizarre guy who pees on the floor at the museum, his girl tossing him aside for another guy she slept with, and meeting his coworker Vanessa are interspersed with Isabel's, a girl he doesn't know, though she goes to his high school. Her chapters begin as she is preoccupied with her boyfriend's death nearly a year earlier; later, they focus on her friendship with Vanessa, who pulls the two narrators into the same sphere. Aside from having loving parents, Isabel and Carlos seem to have more than their share of disappointment and tragedy when their first date at a Valentine dance ends with friends wrenched from their lives in a dreadful car accident. This slice-of-high-school-life captures reality, though Isabel's voice doesn't read quite as true as Carlos's. Readers will need to stick with the first half to get to a far more rewarding second half. Those who do may be touched by the hope the teens must garner to risk caring for one another in the wake of loss, a hope that Hernandez nicely embodies through skillful narrative structure and evocative language.–Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
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Seventeen-year-olds Carlos and Isabel narrate in alternating chapters the story of how they are drawn together across several weeks. Set in current day Long Beach, California, the teens’ lives and friends are vividly and realistically portrayed through dialogue, plot-driven action, and the protagonists’ interior emotions. Hernandez provides credible voices and compelling personalities for all of the teens as well as for the few adults who pass through their awareness. A lot—perhaps too much—happens in the course of the short period covered: Isabel, who has already experienced a boyfriend’s death the year before, now loses a friend in the same car accident that places Carlos’ best friend in a coma; other incidents include another girl’s pregnancy and vandalism at the museum where Carlos works as a guard. While the pace of unfolding events leaves little time to reflect on the details, Carlos and Isabel remain engaging, and the tension created by their growing attraction is brought to a satisfying denouement. These are realistic characters that teens will easily recognize and respect. Grades 9-12. --Francisca Goldsmith