When two gun-toting hoodlums tell the fourteen-year-old narrator of René Saldaña’s story, “The Right Size,” to kiss the floor, he doesn’t think twice. And his dad and younger brother drop to the floor just as quickly. “This guy Jimmy probably thinks Dad is the greatest threat among the three of us, but he’s dead wrong. Dad couldn’t hurt a bug,” the boy thinks. In the ensuing twenty minutes, he learns that his dad isn’t as weak as he thought, and in fact, his dad is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, even if it means killing someone.
The teens featured in these stories deal with situations typical to all young adults, including attraction to the opposite sex—or to the same sex, in one story—and first sexual encounters, problems with family and friends, academic and personal aspirations.
But they also deal with every kind of thrilling situation imaginable, from missing girls to kidnappings and dismembered bodies. A young girl finds herself living with her “family,” though she has no memory of them or who they claim she is. A geek at a prestigious public high school finds himself working with his very attractive arch-rival to solve the mystery of a severed, bloody arm that appears inexplicably in his locker. And Mike’s life sucks when his parents split up, but it gets worse when his best friend is abducted by a thug shot by Mike’s dad, a police officer. There’s something for everyone here, with aliens, ghosts and even an Aztec goddess making appearances in these stories.
Set in schools and communities from New York City to Venice Beach, California, the protagonists reflect the breadth and diversity of the Latino authors included in this innovative collection. Published authors such as Mario Acevedo, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Diana López and Sergio Troncoso appear alongside less well-known authors who deserve more recognition. With an introduction by young adult literature expert Dr. James Blasingame of Arizona State University, this collection is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the last page is turned.