Lynch, Janet Nichols. Messed Up.
Holiday House 2009 256p 17.95 978-0-8234-2185-5 ms/hs
During the year 15 year old Mexican American, R. D., has to repeat 8th grade, his grandmother leaves him in the sole support of her boyfriend. When he dies, R. D. has to find the skills necessary to navigate his world on his own. When 15 year old Mexican American R. D.’s grandmother leaves to be with her new boyfriend, he stays with her old boyfriend Earl. His mother is in prison for drug dealing and his father, who was only 13 at his conception has been out of R. D.’s life since he was a baby. R. D is repeating 8th grade, gets suspended frequently, but is basically a good kid. When Earl dies suddenly, R. D. is left to live on his own and tries to keep it a secret so he won’t be sent to a foster home. He stays in the house and attempts to garner the skills necessary such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and bill paying. He also attempts to keep Earl’s auto repair business going. R. D. is in a special class at school, endeavors to avoid Latino gang violence, and is trying to evade the advances of a tough girl who wants to be his girl at any cost. His realization that he does have the ability to succeed changes his perception on life. The characters are well developed and ring true; Lynch has a good grasp of what conditions can be for some teens. The situations that R. D. finds himself in are often at the same time humorous and sad. This title is well-written and will hold the interest of high school males (as well as some females). This would be an excellent selection for high school libraries looking for books that are of high interest to male readers. Recommended for Tristate Books of Note. Tina Weinraub