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Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña (47)
labandbooks
proseandkahn
 Sixteen-year-old Danny Lopez has a white mother and an absent Mexican father. He attends an exclusive San Diego prep school on scholarship because his grades are good, but he doesn't fit in there because he's too dark. He loves his father's family, who all live in National City, but there, he's too white and he doesn't speak Spanish. He's also a darn good baseball player, but when he tries out for the team at his prep school, he freezes and his pitches go wild. When his mother decides to move into the San Francisco apartment of her white boyfriend on a trial basis, Danny decides to spend the summer in National City, instead. 

He has this idea that he'll make his way down to Mexico, where his father supposedly took off four years earlier. He feels responsible, somehow, for his father's leaving and constantly wonders what he could've done to make him stay and what he can do to bring him home. He strives to be the best ball player he can be, writes letters to his day about how perfect his life is and has basically withdrawn into a world of mute depression and cutting. 

His Mexican family is fiercely proud and protective of Danny. After he's beaten up by a half-black, half-Mexican hotshot named Uno when Danny shows Uno up in a home run derby, Danny retreats even further into his shell. Uno is surprised to learn that Danny refused to press charges and after Danny saves Uno from a beat down by Danny's Uncle Ray by claiming his injuries were from a collision with a garage door, the two fall into an uneasy friendship that grows throughout the summer.

The world inside Danny's head is heartbreaking, as is the poverty and racism that his family deals with in National City. It's a world filled with violence and uncertainty. The book reflects this violence and the raw language. This, coupled with the complex nature of Danny's journey make Mexican WhiteBoy better suited to the high school reader or, a most mature seventh or eighth grader. 

I loved the baseball in the story. Interestingly, there were no games described. The "action" was mostly through Danny's musings on the mechanics and psychology of pitching, his keen observation of his prep school team and its star, and the way his love for the game and his father were inseparable.