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The Closest I've Come
Contributor(s): Aceves, Fred
ISBN: 0062488538     ISBN-13: 9780062488534
Publisher: Harperteen
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: November 2017
Annotation: Enduring abuse at the hands of his mother's racist boyfriend and his gritty peers, gentle-hearted Marcus dreams of escaping his disadvantaged neighborhood and is placed in an after-school program for promising at-risk teens, where new friendships inspire him to think about his future in different ways. A first novel. 30,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Hispanic Americans; Fiction.
Single-parent families; Fiction.
Coming of age; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2017045001
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 6.00" W x 1.00" (0.88 lbs) 310 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2018 Spring)
Marcos Rivas wants to escape his inner-city neighborhood and abusive home life, so he jumps at the chance to attend Future Success, an afterschool class to help underachievers become achievers. As his home situation worsens, Marcos learns that education can be the answer to his problems, but that he needs to take the first step. Marcoss contemporary-teen language rings true, and his experiences are authentic. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 October #2)

In a poor neighborhood in central Tampa, Fla., sophomore Marcos Rivas is more worried about avoiding his mother's abusive, racist boyfriend than about getting good grades. But he also yearns to escape poverty and maybe even get a date with Amy, a classmate with blue-streaked hair and a no-nonsense attitude ("All my life I've seen how couples match, in skin or style, and then I get a crush on a white girl who listens to punk"). Aceves sets his first novel in a vividly described community plagued by the familiar demons of addiction, crime, and abuse, as well as rampant racism. Marcos's narration springs to life as he struggles with complex problems. His best friend is dealing drugs, and his mother—who was 16 when she became pregnant—doesn't really know how to take care of herself, much less him. Through new friends in Marcos's after-school program, he realizes that he isn't alone, an epiphany that permeates the balance of the novel. It's a memorable, hard-hitting portrait of a teenager trying to shape his own destiny after being dealt a difficult hand. Ages 14–up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Nov.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 October)

Gr 9 Up—Marcos Rivas's mother doesn't care about him and never has. She allows her racist boyfriend to abuse the 15-year-old and spends her money on vodka instead of replacing Marcos's holey sneakers and tattered T-shirts. A checked-out mother isn't the only challenge facing the teen, who is growing up in the impoverished neighborhood of Maesta. Marcos typically doesn't even try at school; with no one to believe in him, why would he believe in himself? When a teacher recommends him for a class geared toward underachieving, bright students, he initially assumes his usual prankster role, refusing to learn. Slowly, Marcos begins to realize that while the people you think should care the most might fail you, there are others who won't. A group of quirky and loyal friends and a couple of supportive teachers ultimately provide what his mother cannot: a sense of family and the inspiration to try. The theme of finding family in unexpected places is valuable, and heavy subject material is balanced by ample doses of comedy. The book's nuanced character development is noteworthy, especially as evidenced in Marcos's attitudes toward his evolving friendship with Amy, his major girl crush. While romance features in the novel, it doesn't tie up neatly, lending greater verisimilitude to the work. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and for readers who appreciate gritty and introspective realistic fiction with a sense of humor.—Melissa Williams, Berwick Academy, ME

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.