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Secret Saturdays Paperback – April 12, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Justin and Sean, both 12, live in the Red Hook projects, are half Puerto Rican and half African American, and have absentee fathers. They became friends when Sean stuck up for Justin, but now Sean is straying further from their friendship, avoiding their scheduled sleepovers, lying, and not doing as well in school. He's been getting into more and more fights when he used to advocate dissing instead of fists. Where is Sean going on Saturdays? Why isn't he telling his friends Justin, Kyle, and Vanessa? Justin heads up the squad to find out why, but with more drama than action, and readers may not care. Justin worries, on more than one occasion, that because he's so concerned about Sean people are going to think he's gay. There's also the possibility that Sean's dad is gay—Justin's reasoning is that he sends Sean shiny trinkets from Puerto Rico. He also inaccurately portrays his cousin as gay because he dresses up in women's clothes and wants to be called Vicky. While these fallacies go unaddressed, Maldonado does explore what it means to be a friend, the nature of privacy, and how difficult it is for boys to talk with one another. With so few books out for urban middle school boys of color besides the "Bluford" series (Townsend), this book, with all its flaws, may still be a draw for some readers. The cover, type size, and format, with cool font and a photo at the head of each chapter, will attract reluctant readers, but the content may not sustain them.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Dissing is like boxing, Justin thinks—except you fight with words instead of fists. The best disser around is Sean, who is not only mad popular but also Justin’s best friend. They are so tight, in fact, that the other kids call them twins: both are half black and half Puerto Rican, completely obsessed by hip-hop, and love to freestyle rap with each other. But now Justin is worried because something is happening to Sean. His disses are turning vicious, his grades are suffering, and he is retreating behind a wall of silence and secrets. Could it have something to do with the unexplained, out-of-town trips he and his mother are making? Justin is determined to find out. Maldonado’s first novel—set in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Housing Projects, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York—is notable for its viscerally authentic treatment of setting. Though occasionally didactic and a bit programmatic, its voice—Justin’s first-person vernacular—is infectiously readable, and its characters are sympathetically and memorably realized. Grades 6-9. --Michael Cart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Justin finds out near the middle of the book that Sean has been going to see his dad in Puerto Rico a lot lately. Turns out Sean's dad is in prison for who knows what. Justin figures out the reason why Sean is being defensive. Kids are picking on Sean for not living or some kids think Sean doesn't have a father. No one would like their father in jail in Puerto Rico. Justin finally realizes that he has to stand up for Sean. The theme of this story is to always stick up for someone.
I like this book because it can relate to the fights teenagers have now a days. It also can relate to the real world and how people are still racist and people still have to deal with racial issues. I believe the author, Maldonado was trying to tell people to try to stop the racial comments. I would recommend this book to upper levels in Middle school and all levels in High school. It has violence and some language that might not be recommended to kids under 12.