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My Father, the Angel of Death: By Ray Villareal [Paperback]

Ray Villareal

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2006
Out of the fog billowing from the regions of the Netherworld steps a gigantic, ominous figure dressed in black. A white, skeleton face peers from the long, hooded cloak draping his massive frame, and in one hand, he clutches a wood-handled scythe with a razor-sharp blade. It’s … the Angel of Death, the American Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion! But one of the most popular wrestlers on Monday Night Mayhem is also Mark Baron, Jesse Baron’s father.

Jesse has just started at yet another new school, this time in San Antonio, and he dreads the moment when the other kids in his seventh-grade class learn who his father is. The reaction will be the same as it was in Omaha, Atlanta, Tampa, St. Louis, and all the other cities he has lived in. They will want to be his "friend" not because they like him, but because they are obsessed with the Angel of Death. When Jesse learns that one of the boys at school—one of his father’s biggest fans—doesn’t have a father, Jesse realizes that he has never made an effort to get to know his classmates. Could his automatic assumption that other kids are only interested in him because of his father be wrong? Is it possible to make friends, in spite of his father?

Meanwhile, his parents’ relationship is also suffering because of the Angel of Death’s celebrity status. The constant moving from city to city, his father’s extended absences while on tour with the ACW, and fans who clamor for autographs and photos even during family outings lead to continuous bickering. They have separated once before, and Jesse worries that his mother will leave his dad again.

As Jesse negotiates all the usual middle-school problems—from bullies to first love—he can’t help but wonder what his life would be like if his father weren’t a famous wrestler. Wouldn’t things be better if his dad quit the ACW? But would his father be happy leaving a career he loves?

Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Pinata Books (Oct. 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558854665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558854666
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15.3 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,889,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–This story is written in a high-interest, low-reading-level style that makes it a perfect title for kids with reading-motivation issues. Seventh-grader Jesse knows that a lot of the other kids–and adults–consider him lucky. After all, isn't his dad the huge Angel of Death, one of the hottest wrestlers on TV? However, his life isn't as great as it sounds. His father is hardly ever home, his parents are fighting about how often he is gone, and Jesse has attended 10 schools since kindergarten because they've moved so often. Readers meet the outlandishly costumed mock-tough guys of the fictional American Championship Wrestling League, see what they're like in the dressing rooms, and enjoy the descriptions of their theatrical battles in the ring. Jesse explains how the matches are scripted and played up for maximum entertainment, although he still rightfully worries when he watches his father constantly getting knocked down and thrown to his knees. The story takes place in San Antonio, and there's lots of Texas atmosphere and characters mixing Spanish into their everyday conversations. Villareal's occasionally awkward prose sometimes strays from the way a seventh-grade boy would talk, but the book's flaws are minor, and its appeal to its intended audience should be a smack-down.–Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills a needed niche May 2 2012
By Karen K. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased several books by this author at an NCTE conference. They have been a hit with my male Hispanic students, whom I've struggled with getting interested in reading. The book cover is a little off-putting (it's about a boy whose Dad is a pro wrestler) but if you can get past that, it's good. Not too long and not too difficult (does that make it a Goldilocks book?).
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Backstage with the Superstars of ACW Oct. 13 2007
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Feisty little Pinata Press has brought us a giant smackdown of a book, the life of Mark Baron, the Angel of Death, as seen through the eyes of his lonely little son, Jesse, now in the 7th grade and worn down from the constant travelling his dad's job entails. His Dad, you see, happens to be a superstar of ACW, American Championship Wrestling, but it's not all that much fun being the son of a man famous for his strength, bravery and macho attitude in the ring and on TV. Other kids in Jesse's new San Antonio school want to get to know him, but they're puzzled because he's not much like his dad.

Fat Wendell wants to be Jesse's friend, but Jesse is too preoccupied with his parents' marital problems to realize that "WendY' is offering him a precious gift of friendship. Three hardcore thug kids in the same middle school, Manuel, Chester Leonard and Hugo Sanchez, are always pushing around and intimidating the smaller kids. They even corner innocent girls and steal their purses to pocket their tiny hoards of dollar bills. Then Jesse steps in, gulping, telling the mean trio to stop harassing the beautiful, foxy half-Spanish Sara Young.

This intervention leads to a bit of romance for our boy, just when his relations with his parents are coming to a showdown. The mother is always nagging Mark to give up the ring. "Look at your knees, Mark," she cries out. "You're 38 years old and you have the legs of an old man." Mark says that he's in the hurting business.

One thing leads to another as a pushy teacher at school fails little Jesse, and then blackmails him, saying she will turn his F into an A if he can produce the Angel of Death, Mark Baron himself, to come to her school and make a rare piblic appearance. Mrs. Petrovsky is a crazed fan like Kathy Bates in Misery and she'll do anything, anything, to get those autographs from her favorite wrestling hero.

Everywhere Jesse goes with his mom and dad, even a trip to their local diner, is spoiled by fans. It made me think that I would hate to be the son of a famous TV personality and/or athlete.

The back cover says that this is the first book by author Ray Villareal. After reading a couple of bestsellers by Irv Muchnick, I wanted something along the same lines as WRESTLING BABYLON and I picked up this book sort of by association. Though Villareal doesn't have Muchnick's classic sportswriters' pizzazz, he is a careful and thorough writer and I got the impression all the Latino parts were very inspiring, all the more so if I was actually in the targeted age group of 5th to 8th grade this novel is aimed at.

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