My Father, the Angel of Death
Realistically deals with issues relevant to young people such as bullies, young love, and fears about parental problems and making friends.
by Ray Villareal
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Trade Paperback
Imprint: Piñata Books
Ages: 11 and up
Out of the fog billowing from the regions of the Netherworld steps a gigantic, ominous figure dressed in black. A white, skeleton face peers from the long, hooded cloak draping his massive frame, and in one hand, he clutches a wood-handled scythe with a razor-sharp blade. It’s … the Angel of Death, the American Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion! But one of the most popular wrestlers on Monday Night Mayhem is also Mark Baron, Jesse Baron’s father.
Jesse has just started at yet another new school, this time in San Antonio, and he dreads the moment when the other kids in his seventh-grade class learn who his father is. The reaction will be the same as it was in Omaha, Atlanta, Tampa, St. Louis, and all the other cities he has lived in. They will want to be his “friend” not because they like him, but because they are obsessed with the Angel of Death. When Jesse learns that one of the boys at school—one of his father’s biggest fans—doesn’t have a father, Jesse realizes that he has never made an effort to get to know his classmates. Could his automatic assumption that other kids are only interested in him because of his father be wrong? Is it possible to make friends, in spite of his father?
Meanwhile, his parents’ relationship is also suffering because of the Angel of Death’s celebrity status. The constant moving from city to city, his father’s extended absences while on tour with the ACW, and fans who clamor for autographs and photos even during family outings lead to continuous bickering. They have separated once before, and Jesse worries that his mother will leave his dad again.
As Jesse negotiates all the usual middle-school problems—from bullies to first love—he can’t help but wonder what his life would be like if his father weren’t a famous wrestler.
“This wonderfully moving novel alternates between humor, tenderness, and insight about what it means and takes to become a man.”—KLIATT
“First loves, middle school angst, fame, family problems, bullies-it is all here…A good read.”—Catholic Library World
RAY VILLAREAL is the author of five novels for young adults that capture the angst of adolescent life: Body Slammed! (Piñata Books, 2012), Don’t Call Me Hero (Piñata Books, 2011), Who’s Buried in the Garden? (Piñata Books, 2009), winner of LAUSD’s Westchester Fiction Award, Alamo Wars (Piñata Books, 2008), and My Father, the Angel of Death (Piñata Books, 2006), which was nominated to the 2008-2009 Lone Star Reading List and named to The New York Public Library’s 2007 Books for the Teen Age. His forthcoming novel, On the Other Side of the Bridge, will be published by Piñata Books in October 2014. Villareal worked for 30 years as a teacher and an instructional reading coach with the Dallas Independent School District, and his knowledge of kids is obvious in his characters’ dialogue and the problems they deal with. As Kirkus Reviews said in its review of Who’s Buried in the Garden?: “a solid glimpse at seventh-grade life from a writer who understands the age—biography reports, friendships made and lost, crushes, misbehavior and, sometimes, quiet heroism.” He graduated in 1981 from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. In 1991, he completed his Master of Liberal Arts from the same university. He lives with his family in Dallas, Texas.
ATOS Interest Level: Middle Grade +
Category: Young Adult
ATOS English: 5
Accelerated Reader Quiz #: 110738