Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.
Miss Riki’s Review:
Matt de la Peña writes amazing books that appear on the surface to be about sports, but are clearly always much deeper than that. In Mexican Whiteboy, the sport is baseball, and the author does a wonderful job of setting the stage for a coming of age story framed by the sport. In this wonderful young adult novel, de la Peña tackles huge issues of racial inequality, bullying, and discrimination in a thoughtful manner.
Danny is a wonderfully complex teen character that sets out to find out the truth about his father, but in the end finds out how to become a man himself. Along the way he meets many men who handle adulthood and fatherhood in different ways, and who seem to be showing Danny what it means to be a man. What is wonderful about this book is seeing how Danny picks up on how these men relate in the world and how he forms his own identity.
One of my favorite parts of this novel was the budding relationship between Danny and Uno. What starts off on rocky territory with an unfortunate incident on the baseball field turns into a wonderful friendship. The pride that Uno feels in Danny’s success is endearing and real, and I love how the two boys team up for the greater good, even when they’re up to mischief.
This is a wonderful novel about identity and what it means to be accepted in a community, and I highly recommend it.