Sports & Coming Of Age

I’m done with book #69 and it’s even kind of relevant to yesterday’s random post so woo! I read Mexican Whiteboy by Matt De La Peña. My reading this book on the subway definitely earned me a few looks because this title would seemingly have nothing to do with me, but I think this story can relate to everyone and I’d highly recommend reading it.

The main character (who is the Mexican white boy the title refers to) is named Danny. This story follows Danny as he spends a summer in National City, CA with his aunts and uncles, his cousin Sofia, and her group of friends.

Danny’s mother is white and his father (who deserted him suddenly for reasons he finds out at the end of the book) is Mexican. He’s also a baseball prodigy, though he didn’t make his high school team because he lost control pitching during the tryouts.

The story is mostly about Danny learning about himself, his family, and ultimately his place in the world. He makes unlikely friends with Uno, a half black half Mexican boy  his own age with family struggles of his own. The two spend the summer together playing baseball and working toward their respective dreams.

I think books like this that involve the struggles of being mixed race work so well as young adult stories. All children making the confusing and hard transition from child to teenager are struggling to find themselves. I’d imagine it becomes that much more difficult when you’re identifying with multiple ethnicities, too.

This book makes that struggle easier to understand through really incredible and relatable writing combined with real characters who I mostly just wanted to hug. It was so good, and baseball was also a key theme throughout. I’m not a huge baseball person (I mostly like the soft pretzels and beer), but something about the way De La Peña wrote the tense pitching and home run derby scenes were so great. His passion for the sport is evident through his character’s passion for the sport, and it also served as an excellent tool for introspection and self-discovery, as sports so often do.

I probably didn’t do the best job explaining this story because it’s complex and the way it unfolds it so good that I don’t want to ruin it. If you’ve ever been a child who turned into a teenager or adult or older child, this book is for you. ◊

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