I personally believe all young adults from all backgrounds, countries, and financial "cliques" should go to their local bookstore and pick up a copy of this fantastic debut novel, that teaches us exactly how really difficult are the choices we have to make in life.
This book focuses on a young man by the name of Efrain. Efrain is one of those model students, who's headed straight for valedictorian status when his senior year comes to a close. He has put all his time and energy into getting the perfect SAT score in order to go to an Ivy League school to further his education. This young Latino man is incredibly smart, polite, his friends like him, his teachers love and want to write recommendations for him, and he serves as the head of household for his mom and younger sister. His mother is an extremely hard-worker who wants nothing more than for her son to get the "best" that life has to offer. Although she is separated from their father, Rubio, the man still lives down the street with the new family he traded his old family in for.
Not only does Efrain love his family, and works his "brain" off in order to get where he's going to secure the future he desperately wants for himself, but he also has met up with a new transfer to his school named Candace Lamb. Candace is another extremely bright young adult who originally came from New Orleans. She lost most of her family in the horrible hurricane, and is slowly trying to find the "spirit" that she once had in abundance. When she begins to date Efrain and learn about the struggle he is going through financially, she begins to come around. He becomes the one she can talk to about the horrific past she's been through, and she begins to reach out and trust someone again with her emotions.
Unfortunately, (as in most peoples' lives), money is the biggest factor in trying to change your life. Efrain has filled out every financial aid form he can possibly think of in order to get to the Ivy League, but his SAT score had to be 2100 in order to get taken, and his test comes in at a very good number of 1650; unfortunately, he needs far better to get through those ivy-laden doors. He will need extra money almost immediately in order to pay the application fee to take the test again, as well as try to save for the $11,000+ room and board that he will need each year...and there isn't a job in the world that will allow him to go after what he wants. Well...there is one job that his old friend Nestor (who dropped out of high school) is currently working at. And soon, Efrain throws away all his pride in order to do something criminal. It's not really as if he's changed; he simply thinks that doing one bad thing for a great cause isn't all that bad. The police, however, feel differently, and Efrain's life is quickly turned upside down.
His dreams out the window and his family heartbroken, Efrain must find a way to right the wrong he's done. In addition, he must find the strength and the courage to stand up for a friend, even though his future will be changed forever.
As a single mom who works her behind off to make sure that my senior daughter can go to college, I completely related to this story of bravery, hardship, and financial woe. I have long been a proponent that the most deserving people should be the people who receive good things in the world, not just the people who can afford it. There are times in all our lives where we see the "easy get," but we have to stay on the straight-and-narrow, even when we see others "veer" off and end up getting what they want instead of what they deserve. There are many important lessons taught in this book that people of all ages need to learn. I applaud the author wholeheartedly.
Amy Lignor, [...] Reviewer