A Good Long Way


by René Saldaña, Jr.

ISBN: 978-1-55885-607-3
Publication Date: October 30, 2010
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 128
Ages: 11 and up

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This affecting novel follows the troubled lives of three teens in deep South Texas “Stop it. The two of you, stop it! You’re father and son; you should love each other.” Roelito howls at his father and older brother as their heated argument turns into a pushing, shoving match. Beto has again come home way past curfew, and worse, smelling like a cantina.

When Beto Sr. tells his son that he either needs to follow the rules or leave, the boy—a senior in high school and a man as far as he’s concerned—decides to leave, right then, in the middle of the night. Once he has walked away, though, he realizes he has nowhere to go. Maybe his best friend Jessy—a hard-as-nails girl who has run away before—can help him.

The story of Beto’s decision to run away and drop out of school is told from shifting perspectives in which the conflicted lives of Roel, Beto, and Jessy are revealed in short, poignant scenes that reflect teen-age life along the Texas-Mexico border.

Each one has a good long way to go in growing up. Roel fights against the teachers’ assumptions that he’s like Beto. Unlike his big brother, Roel is book smart and actually enjoys school. Jessy is smart too, but most of her teachers can’t see beyond her tough-girl façade. Her parents are so busy fighting with each other that they don’t notice her, even if she’s packing a suitcase to leave. And Beto … somewhere along the way he quit caring about school. And his teachers have noticed and given up too.

Author and educator René Saldaña, Jr. once again writes a fast-paced, thought-provoking novel that will engage young adults in questions about their own lives and responsibilities to family, friends, and most of all, to themselves.


Named to the Texas Library Association’s 2012 TAYSHAS High School Reading List; Finalist, 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children and Young Adult Literature; Finalist, Texas Institute of Letters Austin Public Library Friends Foundation-Young Adult Book; Honor Book, 2011 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Finalist, ForeWord Reviews’ 2010 Book of the Year

“Told in spare, shifting viewpoints, this short novel, set in a Texas border town and peppered with Spanish phrases, is an absorbing narrative of anger, guilt, sorrow, and hope. The intense fights will grab readers, and so will the friendship and love. A great choice for readers’ theater.”—Booklist

“A poignant, brief novel that leaves a lasting impression, A Good Long Way is a meaningful read for teens by an author with a deep understanding of the struggles and rewards of growing up.”—ForeWord Reviews

“A purposeful but intense tale. Saldaña lays out his characters’ thoughts and emotional landscapes in broad strokes.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A coming-of-age novel set in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas…This fast-paced novel will make readers think about their own lives and responsibilities.”—Library Journal

RENÉ SALDAÑA, JR. is the author of several acclaimed novels for young people that depict life in Mexican-American communities. Reviewers have used words like “powerful,” “provocative,” “engaging,” and “accessible” to describe his work. In A Good Long Way, an affecting novel that follows the troubled lives of three teens in deep South Texas, Saldaña once again writes a fast-paced narrative that will engage young adults in questions about their own lives and responsibilities to family, friends, and most of all, to themselves. He is the author of a bilingual story collection, Dancing with the Devil and Other Tales from Beyond / Bailando con el Diablo y otros cuentos del más allá (Piñata Books, 2012), which features supernatural elements rooted in Latino folklore. His other books include The Whole Sky Full of Stars (Random House, 2007), Finding Our Way: Stories (2003) and The Jumping Tree (Delacorte, 2001). He lives in Lubbock, Texas, where he teaches in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.
Learn more at renesaldanajr.blogspot.com.

Accelerated Reader Quiz #142332 | ATOS English: 5 | ATOS Interest Level: Upper Grade | LEXILE: 780L

A Good Long Way by René Saldaña, Jr. by Arte Público Press