Mexican WhiteBoy by Mat de la Pena

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19 Comments on “Mexican WhiteBoy by Mat de la Pena”

  1. Evan Phail says:

    This novel had great characters who had a lot of understandable identity issues. The question of what kind of racial kid is Danny? Is he Mexican, is he white? What does it mean to be Mexican? To be on the street or to speak Spanish? As well as what does it mean to be white? Going to private school only confuses Danny’s situation more. As he says on p90 “I’m a white boy among Mexicans, and a Mexican among white boys.” The bi-racial audience can relate to this (which is maybe why I can relate, being half white, half Puerto Rican).
    Also the language of the narrator is very similar to someone who I could see growing up on the street. The slang is apparent and I thought it was a smart choice to get the readers into this speech.
    Based on the cover, the title, and even the information on the back, the audience expects this story to be all about Danny but in fact half of this story is about Uno’s own identity issues.
    Characters are supposed to make choices and I liked the development of a choice between Danny and Uno when they tossed the ball for the first time. Danny was pissed off and stood up for himself by firing a fastball at Uno. Uno also had a choice to retaliate but he understood why Danny threw it hard so he let it go. This small scene was very smart in giving the characters a choice instead of having all the action come to them.
    Both Uno and Senior can be ‘Archie’ characters. Uno is an ‘Archie’ to Danny and in turn Senior is Uno’s own ‘Archie’.
    Senior was a character that for some reason I could appreciate. Although I usually dislike his type of personality, he struck me as a rare black man who actually supports his children, or at least makes an effort. Usually literature doesn’t have strong black male father figures.

  2. Stephanie Haddad says:

    The title along with the cover of the book did not completely draw me into the novel as much as the summary in the back of the book did. Race, class, gender, and family ties were all key factors that drove Danny to a state of confusion in defining his true identity. Danny’s father’s departure from his family when he was young was the key cause of his perplexities in regards to his biracial status—The main reason as to why Danny so badly wanted to be more like the Mexican side of his family—The reason why he constantly questioned his presence everywhere he went- he was either too white or too tan. His father made him insecure—he made Danny think it was his fault for being only half Mexican. For all these reasons, Danny wanted to think that he was more like his dad’s side of the family even if he wasn’t.

    And then comes Uno, also struggling with similar issues as Danny, who helps Danny grow as an individual. The relationship between Danny and Uno was so integral to the story. I agree with Evan that Uno was Danny’s “Archie”—Uno wanted Danny to gain confidence and be more open about his feelings. When Uno is first introduced into the story, we see Danny’s love for baseball and the important affect it has in awakening him from his identity crisis—giving him some surge of energy that he really loses without this sport. I loved the part on page 146, where the reader discovers the value of trust in a friendship. Uno tells Danny, “Hold tight, man. Trust me,” and Danny does exactly as he says and holds on tight to one of the wooden pillars under the bridge as a “powerful train roars over their heads, rumbling over the tracks.” This scene really stuck to me.

    Important rhetorical choices that Matt De La Pena uses include the incorporation of language as a barrier to Danny’s ability to completely blend in with the Mexican side of his family as well as the randomly placed letters that Danny writes to his father throughout the book. The language barrier was an important element in understanding this struggle for race identity—Danny could not speak Spanish, which he felt truly inhibited him from completely blending in with the Mexican side of his family. With the language used in the book, I was able to get a clear perception into the two different cultures. The rhetorical choice of Matt De La Pena to include the letters that Danny sent to his father allowed me to understand Danny’s situation so much better. It allowed me to analyze his reasons for wanting to fit in with the Mexican side of his family so much more than his mother’s white side of the family as well as his reasons for choosing to hardly speak—all stemming from his desire to impress his father in the hopes that his father would come running back to him.

  3. shanita316 says:

    Pena’s novel focuses on Danny’s struggle of being half Mexican and half white. He struggles with his identity the most when his friend discusses poverty and how people looking for a better life enter the National City. Pena touches on race and class, but he analyzes how that relates to people misunderstanding themselves and others and the struggles they face. Danny is torn between the two worlds of being an upscale prep and a being a white boy in a poor Mexican neighborhood. I agree with Evan this book may appeal to children who are biracial or of multiple ethnicities.

    I am in the middle about Uno being the “Archie” character because he is also struggling with both identities and needs to learn more about his black culture as he lives with his mom. I appreciate the idea that Uno and Danny are growing together and learning how to cope with not having their father figures around. The sport of baseball is used as a metaphor for Danny and his struggles. Each pitch is a leap he takes into understanding Mexican culture, each base represents him adapting to the culture and ultimately accepting both his identities. Being exposed to a different way of living Danny is able to face his struggles, learn from them and ultimately becomes a member of his school baseball team.

  4. carlagaynor2 says:

    At first I found this book hard to get into. This is the only book we have read so far that is in the third person. Most of the books were in the first person, with the exception of Monster. I find that the first person makes it easier for the reader to relate to the character of story especially a young reader. I find that Mexican Whiteboy might have been a bit easier to get into if it was more focused on Danny’s story solely, and was from Danny’s point of view. Here we get an unbiased narrator, but we are a little more distanced from Danny’s struggles. We do not see everything through his thoughts.

    There were also a lot of characters for me to remember at first. I do agree, as I read through the book, that all of the characters are necessary for telling the story, but I had to flip back through the book to remember which character was which. I ended up marking where each character was introduced so that I could remember more easily.

    I saw Danny getting cut from the baseball team as a metaphor for the identity struggle is he going through. While Danny needs to make his pitch less sporadic, he also needs to find his identity so that he can be at peace. At the beginning of the story he is not at peace with either. Throughout the course of the story he is able to become at peace with his identity, with baseball aiding him and propelling the storyline.

    I have to say that I was not a fan of this book. I could have been the point of view that the story was written in, or I might have just not identified with it. I also am not a fan of baseball. These three together may have been what hindered me from enjoying the story that much.

  5. Hannah Sorgi says:

    Hannah Sorgi
    Mexican White Boy

    I found the characters and plot hard to relate to relate to because I am a white Jewish upperclass girl, not a Mexican white boy. I understand how to relate this book to other identities and ideas but the book itself was hard to get in to. I picked up this book over the summer and had to put it down because I wasn’t enjoying it. One thing I did relate to is that no one is just one identity. I am not just female, not just white, not just a Jew…and so on. Although Danny’s identity as a mexican white boy was more obvious than some other identities there are of course situations no matter what identity you are that one can relate to. As a child, I would run around the house saying “Why am I blonde?”, “I don’t fit in”. This is because I am adopted and everyone else in my family is brunette, almost EVERYONE. I have no issues with being adopted but I understand the feeling of not quite fitting in. During family reunions people would tell me that I look like my brother or my cousins and I would just feel uncomfortable knowing that there is no blood relation between any of us.

    I also think that using baseball as something that all people can sort of relate to was a good rhetorical tool. I understood the plot stories that involved baseball, I could relate to the sports aspect. I think this is crucial to allowing people whose identities would relate to the book, into the world the author created. Baseball defies race, class, religion–even gender. This analogy of baseball helps the audience relate or be captivated by the book.

    The one thing I did enjoy was the use of Spanish words. I love books that use foreign words without translation. It bring authenticity to the book showing an ethnic flare to the book. It brought me into a world, and a culture I will never be a part of. I have learned Spanish and I have been to Mexico and so on, but I will never be Mexican. It set the tone, and the atmosphere of the book and helped me truly get a sense of what the author was trying to capture in the book. Overall the book wasn’t bad, but wasn’t my favorite. I did enjoy it more than Monster, because it was easier to find a connection to the book.

  6. Meghan Warager says:

    Mexican White Boy Reflection
    Meghan Warager

    There are many aspects of this book that makes it unique, but also many aspects that has similarities of the other books that we have been studying as well. One difference is the role that language plays in the book, as well as in the main characters life. The author has a mix of both English as well as words or phrases of Spanish in the story, making the reader have to closely interpret the context of the words in order to derive a meaning. Also, there are many slang words or phrases in used in the story as well such as “I ain’t goin into no bedroom” or “ lot of paper on the line.” Finally, there is the use of foul language such as “fuck” or “shit” used throughout the story. I think the variety use of language parallels the importance of language in the main character, Danny’s, life. Many chapters discuss how Danny does not know how to speak Spanish, so although he is Mexican, he feels very distant from his relatives when they speak or make jokes in Spanish that he cannot understand. On the contrary, since his skin is darker than his average white class mates at prep school, it does not matter how grammatically correct his English is, or how “white” he may act, his skin plays a larger role in their classifying him within their social setting.
    I think one way this book is similar to the other books we have read is the fact that we can find an “Archie character” in Uno’s father, Senior. Although he seems like an unlikely character at first to be an “archie” when the reader finds out the Senior doesn’t have the best past with substance use, he seems to have “turned over a new leaf” and brings forth great advice to his own son who is trying to find his way as well as Danny. It is Senior that is the one that can finally understand that Danny’s heart is broken.

  7. Luke Lyons says:

    I wasn’t too into this novel. And that’s not the books fault. The characters were great, the story was decent, but this book just wasn’t my thing. Now that that’s out of the way, there were a few rhetorical devices that caught my eye. Something that might go unnoticed simply because we might take it for granted, is the fact that this is the first story we’ve read this semester that’s in third-person. This is probably why I grouped all of the characters as great and wasn’t able to delve deeper into Danny himself. I sympathize with Danny’s identity issues and coming of age drama, but the third-person perspective sort of distanced me from him. The only thing that kept me close to Danny were those sporadic letters to his father.

    Something I continuously got stuck on was the usage of italics from chapter to chapter. With a plethora of words italicized (both Spanish and English), I couldn’t figure out the reason why they were placed where they were placed. But every time I ran into them, I would read the words differently in my head. This didn’t really help my reading experience. Going on with language though, the usage of Spanish a few places in the book was intriguing. The Spanish in the book helped ground me in Danny’s immediate environment.

    As far as the structure of the book goes, formatting the book to be broken into different chapters with each chapter having its own sections was a great move. The constant progression of chapters and their respective sections coming in gradations made the entire book much easier to digest. I don’t know why, but it allowed to me to retain previously read information and prepare for the reading that’s ahead.

    Overall, I didn’t find anything too spectacular about this book, but it was a good read.

  8. I don’t know exactly what to feel right now about this book. For now I would say that I liked it. It was a book that I was able to relate to because of the fact that I am a Latina. I could kind of feel what Danny feels when it comes to fitting in and finding your identity. Coming to Hobart and William Smith Colleges it was very hard to transition into the culture. Where I come from is like a neighborhood in MONSTER. Growing up in Washington Heights I was surrounded by only Hispanics. Transitioning to Hobart and William Smith, I questioned my own identity. Should I assimilate to this new culture, where it was mainly Caucasians, or stay with my Latina roots. In the end I did find a balance and identity.

    The use of Spanish words was something else that I really liked. Of course it was easy for me to understand what everything meant since I speak the language. I enjoyed the fact that de la Peña did not translate the words because it loses its value and real meaning. Another rhetorical choice that he made was the use of Baseball. His struggles with the game paralleled to those he had with pitching. Throughout his time in the book he does find his balance as he steps to that pitcher’s mound. The way I saw it was he was uneven until he could stand straight on it, just like his life.

    As for the “Archie” character in this book it is clear to see that it is Uno.

    What I have noticed with these blog responses is that they get better as I relate more to the book which is something interesting to think about because not everything you read is something that you can relate to. These multicultural books are something that should be highlighted more in classrooms because it is something that most Americans don’t end up experiencing ever in their lives and ends up leading to many sterotypes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Although in many ways this novel was hard for me to relate to, in one way, it connected to something inside of me that I haven’t thought about in a long time. The divide that Danny feels in himself (the Mexican vs. white side of him) rang a bell with my own religious struggles. My mom’s Jewish, and my dad’s Christian, and as a child I often felt split between the two different lifestyles, and had trouble identifying exactly who I was supposed to be. This was highlighted by the fact that my dad’s mother didn’t support him marrying a Jewish woman, and so whenever we visited for Christmas, she’d refuse to let me and my little sister sit on her lap. I grew up feeling very skeptical of the Christian religion, and it’s taken me until now to forgive my Grandma for the way she treated us and banish many of the prejudices I had about Christianity.
    Because of this experience, I think that identity divides are an important topic for Young Adult authors to cover in their writing; it’s something that my parents never thought to talk about with me, and I feel like if I’d read this book as an adolescent I would’ve at least felt less alone.
    I don’t think that Uno was the Archie character in this novel. Although he helps Danny move forward into accepting himself, Michelle initially identified the Archie as an adult who knows all. Uno is also struggling with his own identity simultaneously– he doesn’t have all of the answers. I think that Uno’s role is an important one though, possibly even one that calls for its own label in Young Adult literature, like “the shoulder to lean on” or something like that. Of course, maybe the Archie label encompasses that one… I think that in order to truly define Uno’s position, first we’d need a more specific definition for what role exactly Archie plays. Perhaps that’d be a good project for this class–to examine all of the different advice givers/influences in the books and place them in different classifications.
    One thing about this novel that I think may turn many young readers off is the explicit mutilation that Danny inflicts on himself in the very beginning. I first started to try to read this book over the summer, and I couldn’t get past the first couple of pages because of the description of him digging his nails into his arm, and the scabs that’d formed there. I feel almost like the author is trying to cover two niches: identity crises and self-mutilation, and I’m not sure that the audiences are the same for both. While I could relate to Danny’s identity crises, as soon as the mutilation was described I was completely turned off to the book.
    The baseball aspect of the novel also may be something that made it hard for me to connect. Although I was glad that Danny had something he was good at (and I think that positive force made the book easier to read) I’ve never been either a sports fan or any good at sports. The baseball parts pretty much lost me, and I found myself skimming through them. But then again, I’m not the audience de Pena’s aiming for; judging by the cover, the colors of the book and the main character, it’s geared for a male audience. Most likely, the boys who pick this up will really enjoy the baseball parts, and it will help them connect with the book even more.

    Sarah Buckleitner

  10. lmaalexander says:

    When I first started reading Mexican Whiteboy, I had a really hard time with it. I couldn’t find my “way in” for lack of a better term. I’m a sports fan, but not baseball so there was no connection there. And I’m a white girl, which is the farthest thing from a mexican kid as possible. It took some time and close reading before I was able to find any connection.

    After a while though, I realized that Danny and Uno’s struggles for finding themselves are relatable for every kid. I feel like at some point in all our lives we go through that time when we don’t really fit anywhere. We may not be too white or too Mexican, as Danny is, but for whatever reason we don’t belong in the world that we’re existing in. But, once we something that connects to us, like Danny did with baseball, the world makes a little more sense.

    I thought the structure of this book was really interesting. Each chapter had a title that I could visualize on a black screen for a movie. These titles were almost short little blurbs telling the reader what the chapters would be about. But I really liked that de la Pena had sections within his chapters. These smaller-maybe a page or two-sections made reading the book easier for me, and I think teen readers would also appreciate it.

    I loved the cover art on this book. It’s definitely something that would have grabbed my attention as a teen reader, even though I don’t fit into any molds presented in the book. It’s colorful and disorganized and in so many ways, it captures the world that Uno, Danny, Sofia and their friends live in. There is barbed wire, old beat up cars, graffiti, baseball hats and a mit. These are all crucial elements to their lives, and de la Pena perfectly represents the world he writes about inside the book with these images on the outside.

  11. kbronner says:

    The first time I tried to read Mexican Whiteboy I put it back down. All of the problems it presented I could not connect to. First of all, I’m a white girl, older than the main character. My parents are together, and I am horrible at baseball. I’ve also never been to Mexico. Even though Danny is American, we live in completely different parts of the country. Although I couldn’t personally connect with the book, I can see why adolescents, particularly boys, can. I also think that in relation to our class discussion about multicultural reading, Mexican Whiteboy is a very important book for adolescents to read.

    At first, when I was reading, it didn’t stand out to me that this book was told in the third person. Since I read so much as a kid, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to read a book written this way. But looking back on the other books we’ve read this semester, I realized that none of those have been in the third person. This makes me wonder why so many adolescent lit. authors choose to write in the first person perspective. Does it help the reader to form a better relationship with the character? How would we feel about Kristina/Bre’s story if we didn’t hear it from her perspective? How would Mexican Whiteboy be different if it was told from Danny’s perspective?

    On a sidenote, from looking at this blog, I noticed that I have a different cover. The cover on the blog emphasizes the baseball aspect of the book, but on my cover you have to look closely to see that Danny is holding a baseball mitt. The emphasis on my cover is a barbed wire fence.

  12. Shane Samuel says:

    Mexican White Boy was a wonderful book, before reading it I was unsure what to expect. I thought it would be a book about sports (I based it on the cover), while it did mention sports; the book was much deeper than that. De la Pena did a great job at bringing the characters to life, he allowed the reader to go into the character’s minds and see life from another perspective. What I like about the characters is that they are each very complex and play a role in the progression of the story. For example, Uno and Danny’s relationship is very unique because they are both going throw the same things yet, they support each other in various ways. I also enjoyed the way that De la Pena touched on a lot of issues such as teen angst, race, poverty, and identity. De la Pena’s exploration of poverty was exquisite, suggesting that poverty is much deeper than class and race. I would also like to note something that I did not notice before until I started to write this review. De la Pena wrote the story to resemble Danny’s pitching skills; it started of slow and steady then it just ricochet into a super fast throw (Danny attempted suicide). I found that to be very clever because it really help propel the story.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Caley Goldblatt
    In Mexican White-Boy I was impressed with how clearly each of the characters’ voices was portrayed and how that was off-set with Danny’s silence. Just like Danny’s ethnicity, the sets of voices are divided into two categories, Mexican and white. When Danny’s mother calls on the phone her voice is so impeccably and undeniably white. The events that she talks about, her though process, the details she wanted to share all are based around her race/class/gender make-up. She also monopolizes the conversation and doesn’t seem to really care that Danny will not give her details of what is going on in his life. Her voice compared to, let’s say, Sophia is extremely different in tone, formality, and word choice. Even if this story were written with no names explaining who was speaking, it would still be tremendously clear who was who.
    Also the Danny’s inner voice is seen in his sad, loftily letters to his father. These fantasies seem to encompass his inner desires of what his life were actually life. However I find it hard to romanticize Danny’s father because he seems like such a wife-beating asshole. With everything Danny knows about his father, I can’t understand why he would treat his mom so poorly and aspire to be like his dad.

  14. Eliss Manon says:

    While reading the story I found it confusing how it kept shifting from one characters life, Danny, to another, Uno. I guessed I felt that way because of the cover and Title of the book. Mexican Whiteboy, I thought it was going to be about Danny figuring out his identity through baseball, in the neighborhood of his Mexican family. As I see the transition from Danny to Uno I realized how they are both trying to figure out their identities in different ways. Danny more than Uno, because Uno is basically helping Danny gain confidence. Being that they are both occupying there time in a neighborhoods that does not “belong to them” shows how they each separately struggle to or just fit in right away. Uno was Black and I felt that because he was the only Black among Mexicans he tries to fit in by being the tough guy to show that he is not scared of any of them but he knew that way it would not seem as if he were different as much. Uno knew his place in the neighborhood and he was confidant so he helped Danny find his confidence. So I agree with the people that said that Uno can be seen as Archie, for guiding Danny.

    I also thought how Matt de la Peña used words or phrases in Spanish in this book was really good because it showed me how Danny struggled with his Spanish identity because he lives with his white mother and goes to a private school. It also made me connect with him because it reminded me of the times I would visit my family in the Dominican Republic and not be understood because my Spanish was not as good as theirs and I would not know how to translate it from English to Spanish. Having that connection with Danny made me realize how out of place I felt during that time and how he must have felt being there. It also reminded me how I got special treatment from my aunts and uncles when I would go because I was from the states and I did not like it at all, so I could only imagine how all he wanted to do was fit in, not be different because they thought he was smarter since he came from “somewhere different.”

  15. balor321 says:

    Mexican white Boy has a similar but more nuanced rhetorical flair that puts it ahead of Monster in the court of style. Whereas dialogue was used primarily to set the scene and to establish sympathy for the characters in Monster this book sees it used to foreshadow and to further a kind of cognitive dissidence. We have trouble relating to the book because it’s voice is just not something with which we are accustomed. That it does so helps us to parallel Danny’s experience by creating a sense of alienation and (for me at least) invests the reader more deeply in the story.
    The form of the novel corresponds closely with the protagonists voice. The book sits somewhere between traditional long- form novel format and free verse. It’s short relatively self contained chapters represent an understanding of childhood which is quite effective in pushing a narrative which is very much about self discovery and self acceptance. For that matter the way in which the book avoids offering a cookie cutter positive ending is to its immense credit. Real personal growth isn’t accomplished over one sitting but is instead a progressive effort.
    The ambiguity of the end likewise shows that Danny is taking on new challenges- and while the implication is that he’ll succeed we’re allowed a little doubt in the water. The author establishes credibility in this book through the careful consideration of Danny’s world. While much of it is pulled from real life” it serves equally as a playground in which to stretch the character and the reader’s beliefs. This kind of ship in a bottle approach distinguishes the book from one like Monster which seemed to see environment as ending at establishing a backdrop. MWB doesn’t need shock value because it taps into real insecurities that most young readers would have and addresses them in a real way.
    That’s not to say I see this as a masterpiece though. I found the romantic tension here misplaced or misaligned. It read to me like an obligatory part of storytelling for the author and not like a part of the authentic experience. The elements of brother-like closeness the character develops suggest one reason for this. Perhaps the author sought to avoid any accusations of homoerotic by the use of the mechanism? In which case we’d have a bigger issue then a spot on an otherwise fine piece of storytelling. Namely, why do we seek to impose adult mores feelings and conceptions on books meant for an age group where such ideas are much less clearly defined?

  16. Lindsay Webster says:

    I’m constantly on the lookout for books that are “boy-oriented.” As we’ve discussed in class, there are few true home-runs (no pun intended) out there for the young male audience. I checked with the bookstore I’ve worked at back home, and we don’t even have this book on our shelf! I’m disappointed by that. This isn’t a book that I would ever pick up and read without some sort of urging and assurance that I’ll like it in the end. I’m tempted to say it’s because, as many of the people above me have said, “I’m a white girl…” but I don’t like that excuse. One of my favorite books is ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, so in reading MEXICAN WHITEBOY, I know that I was capable of relating fully to the characters. And that I did.

    That’s what I loved the most about it- that between Danny and Uno, their identity struggles are incredibly tangible and honest- and despite the fact that I’m white, or in a different socioeconomic background, they feel like my brothers. Everyone on this earth is spun from the same web.

    The biggest issue I had with the book, in a purely rhetorical sense, was the spanish vocab integrated into the story. I understand why it was necessary, and as a concept I love it- but just for me, and the flow that I need to truly engulf myself in a story, it didn’t work. It was like a little hiccup every time I came across one. It stalled the dialogue and drew my focus from the story line. I absolutely hate to admit that, though….

  17. Katie McLean says:

    Well, I don’t really like the story that much. Sadly it IS because I am not a boy or a sports player. That was double whammy for me… I do not think I’m leaving out the race part actually though, because I love learning about different race and ethnicities. In fact, I found it fascinating that there was such a relationship between doing “bad” and not doing too good for yourself, and being Mexican. I could not, for the life of me, understand where this influence came from. But anyway– on to some structure comments..

    I think that Matt De La Pena was smart when he wrote this. He wrote the book in third person, which lets the reader see a lot of insight into the characters vision and perspective, but not everything– like broken-down-word-for-word-thought. But, he also used one character to explain another. Through the story we watch Uno and Sofia explain, judge, and describe Danny and his oddities in their own words. Sofia stands up for Danny, while Uno is tough on him, yet they interestingly share some commonalities in their biculturalism. Yet this additional meta-perspective in helpful for the reader to gather information about Danny, even if it is bias. It is GOOD to hear what other characters are noticing about the character we are trying to zoom in on.

    Also, I like the other insight the author gives us– Danny’s emotional letters to his father. They are upsetting and can help explain his relationship to his family, his choice to move out that summer instead of living with his neglectful mother and her new boyfriend. The letters prove a lot more than just Danny and his Dad. Really, they show his compassion, his struggle, his inner fight to define himself.

    I’m not that into the book, but I do think it is well done. It is authentic–I think– but I would be curious to see who does not agree with that. It’s a new perspective for me so these could be false assumptions, but the author seems credible. I think this book is a great story of a bicultural struggle and how that can really put someone outside themselves.

  18. Daphney Etienne

    Sorry this is so late. But beside Occupy Wall Street, this novel was the highlight of Fall break for me. (I’m going to try writing it as if we didn’t already have a discussion about it)

    My favorite book we’ve read so far. 1st of all, it felt like I was reading a YA novel. The past three books have been so complicated in structure. Though I appreciate that, I liked that I could read this one without looking to into it or having the structure distract me from the story line.

    I appreciate that this novel deals with multi-culturalism. You think there’s a lack of Black or Hispanic characters in literature, there’s absolutely no bi-racial or multi-cultural characters at all. I think it really gives the reader an inside look of bi-racial or mulit-cultural people. For example, with Uno, it’s kind of painful to hear his parents taking jabs at each other using their different races. How can they accept themselves when they hear the negatives said about both of their heritage?

    The letters which Steven writes to his parents is genius on de la Pena’s part. He’s not only saying that this kid earns to meet his father, but the letter shows us his earning to be accepted by his father. We get the true story thanks to a reliable narrator(are 3rd person narrators always reliable? BC I think so since they’re unknown and neutral) and I like that from the story, there’s no real transitions to the letters. Also, the letters though sad, are very amusing. He is trying to be accepted by his father but he is making up crazy lies.

    Another rhetorical device that was genius is the baseball backdrop. For one thing, baseball is a popular sport in the Hispanic community. The kids in the novel, esp Uno and Steven, being only half Mexican, they are already outsiders. Baseball unites them with the other kids. Also, the plot as a whole mirrors the baseball story.

    Also, I likes that some words were in Spanish. Because any bilingual person will tell you that when they’re speaking English to someone who speaks their native tongue, they’ll add some words of their native language in there. I can also imagine it being beneficial for young adults in learning to define words through context clues.

  19. Celeste Smith says:

    I originally had trouble getting into this book due to the amount of dialect. Even when it wasn’t in Spanish, I had trouble understanding it due to the conversational grammar, slang, and abbreviations. I didn’t envision myself enjoying or relating to the book. As the book progressed however, I got used to the dialogue and in the end, realized the necessity of it. Even though it was problematic at first, the dialogue was what allowed me to adjust and become accustomed to the multicultural elements of the book. It made the whole experience much more real as a reader, and made the book seem authentic.
    The dialogue was one of the main ways how multiculturalism was explored. In turn, identity was explored through multiculturalism. Without multiculturalism, Danny’s identity would not have caused inner conflict. Being half white, half Mexican, Danny experiences (and readers experience through dialogue) an identity crisis since he doesn’t belong with either Whites or Mexicans. He longs to be a more stereotypical Mexican, even though he doesn’t speak Spanish, and his Mexican father is in jail. Tugging him in the “other direction” however, is a White society and family that he is submerged in during the school year. Baseball is the connecting piece between these two worlds.
    Without the identity piece, multiculturalism would have played a much lesser role. Although there are multiple cultures represented in the book, without Danny’s identity issues, they would not have been as prominent since we learn about all the different cultures he is a part of. Therefore, for me this book is first a book about identity, then multiculturalism. I consequently think anyone, no matter who the reader is, could relate, if not connect, to the book because of the universal theme of identity which was so prominent. For example, although I did not connect particularly to the book because my parents are of the same race, I don’t play baseball, I’m not a male, et cetera, I can relate to Danny because like most teens, I was torn trying to decide what types of groups to identify with and emulate.