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The Whole Sky Full of Stars Hardcover – March 13, 2007

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 16 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 11
  • Hardcover: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; 1ST edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385730535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385730532
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,871,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Barry Esquivel and Alby Alonzo, two Mexican-American teens growing up in a Texas suburb, have been friends since first grade, but their relationship is challenged by Alby's secret gambling. In debt to Ciro, a thug who runs poker games in his garage, Alby convinces Barry, whose recently deceased father trained him as a boxer, to enter a local competition so they might split the prize money. Barry is reluctant but agrees in order to help his mother through their financial difficulties. Remembering his dad's advice to aim for the liver, Barry wins all of the matches, and even though the prize money is only a fraction of the boys' expectations, Alby has bet on the fight and wins big. Then his true motives and his callous exploitation of Barry's emotions are revealed and the boys become estranged. Refusing to take any of Alby's ill-gotten winnings, Barry must sell the 1964 Ford Galaxy he and his father had been restoring in order to help his mother. In an unexpected show of character and wisdom, Alby's father, portrayed earlier as a boastful car salesman, comes up with a way to help his son redeem himself. Minimal character development, a mere passing nod to the boys' ethnicity, false-sounding dialogue, and the simplistic resolution keep this novel from realizing its potential, but its brevity and vivid descriptions of the boxing matches are likely to attract male reluctant readers.–Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Saldana (The Jumping Tree , 2001) delivers another moving coming-of-age novel about the perils of friendship and the burdens of parental expectations. Barry Esquivel is a high-school senior dealing with the responsibility he feels as the new man of the family in the wake of his father's death. Barry's best friend, Alby, has problems of his own: in trying to live up to his father's credo that "we're winners not losers," he has amassed gambling debts to an unsavory type who wants his money now. Playing on their friendship, Alby convinces Barry, long schooled by his father as a boxer, to enter a shady competition called the Man o' Mite. Knowing this kind of exploitive venture would be condemned by his father, Barry still agrees to fight--anything to keep the family from selling Pop's treasured 1964 Ford Galaxy to make ends meet. The premise screams Rocky , but Saldana skillfully dodges that punch, focusing less on the fights and more on the boys' imperiled friendship. Comparisons to Markus Zusak's Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2001) are inevitable, but Saldana avoids the overwriting that marred Zusak's first novel. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
THE WHOLE SKY FULL OF STARS is a story about the strong bonds of friendship. Through the experience of the main characters readers will learn that true friendship can survive.

Barry and Alby have been friends against all odds. Barry's father's recent death from cancer has put a huge financial strain on life for him and his mother. They never had much before and now that is stretched even thinner. Alby, on the other hand, doesn't need to worry about cash. His dad is a successful car dealer and his mom is a lawyer. Yet, the two boys have been friends since the first grade.

Alby finds himself in some trouble involving his gambling debts. With the help of his friend Barry's boxing skills, he hopes to concoct a scheme to take care of both the boys' needs. The Man o' Might fighting contest offers a chance for Alby to win what he owes in gambling debts, and, hopefully, provide some financial relief for Barry and his mom.

At first reluctant to get involved, Barry finds that preparing for the fight helps him remember the good times with his dad. They used to spend hours together working out on the bag and down at the gym. When they weren't boxing, they were working on an old 1964 Ford Galaxie that Barry might someday drive to the prom.

Will Alby's crazy scheme placing side bets on Barry's boxing abilities have what it takes to ruin their friendship? Rene Saldana, Jr. provides the answer in this fast-paced read that is sure to please even reluctant middle grade boys.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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Format: Hardcover
When Barry's father dies, he leaves three things behind for his teenage son: his belief in Barry's will to succeed in life, a love of boxing and a Ford Galaxie worth more money than his wife can make in six months.

In order to help out his poor, tired mother, Barry makes a deal with his best friend Alby that puts everything he's been left at stake.

Rene Saldana, Jr.'s THE WHOLE SKY FULL OF STARS is a story about the intricacies of teen friendship. Although Barry and Alby have been friends since kindergarten, Alby, whose family is better off, uses Barry to make up for gambling with Ciro, the school thug. Without telling him the truth, Alby convinces Barry that he should participate in a big, risky fight scene, with Alby as his manager. What Barry doesn't know is that he'll be trading his hard-earned brawn for bread he'll never see.

With the specter of Barry's proud dad weaving throughout the story, Saldana catches Barry on some slippery slopes from which there is no chance for a return. It's a story about growing up, trusting others as well as yourself, combining nerves of steel with physical bulk, and the price that is paid when you choose brawn over brains.

The background of the book is shady --- the undisclosed town where the boys live, the school they attend, the work their parents do. Saldana could have enriched the novel with details from the life that Barry leads and the more well-to-do upbringing that Alby comes from. It would have made the financial worries of Barry seem even more dire and added a sense of ennui to Alby's involvement with the bad guys.
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By Edith A. Campbell on September 20, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When you say something out of place about your friend's mom, you get hit so hard, that you see a sky full of stars. And when you keep behaving out of place with your friend, sometimes the sky just goes dark.

Barry and Alby have been friends since elementary school. You would think that they know each other so well, that they would know when they are going beyond what their friend will accept. Alby has lost some money to a loan shark at school. Barry lost his dad a few years ago and daily, he watches his mom work way past being exhausted to provide for their home. Alby's dad had indirectly taught his son to be a hustler, just like him. Barry's dad was the kind of dad anyone would want. He taught his son how to box; repaired cars with him; talked with him and without knowing it, taught him how to be a man of integrity.

Barry and Alby both need money. Alby finds a boxing match in which he can enter Barry and they can both win money. Barry knows about these kinds of matches and how dangerous they can be, and he knows how his mom feels about him boxing. He tries to follow his dad's voice. Alby? Our boy Alby just digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself!

Obviously, this is a guy book. It doesn't feel quite right to say it's a `nice' book! But, that's just what it is: A smooth, comfortable slice of two boys coming of age as they test the limits of their relationship with each other and with their parents. I especially liked how the dads came through for their sons. While they are both completely different in their parenting skills, they show that however you parent, you need to support and raise your boys.
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