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A Good Long Way
     

A Good Long Way

by René Saldaña Jr.
 

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"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

Overview

"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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
Three Mexican American teens discover some important life lessons in this moving account of one twenty-four hour period. After a fight with his father, Beto decides to run away and drop out of school. His best friend Jessy is counting the days until she can leave the violence of her house—she no longer thinks of it as home—and has dreams of college and a new life. Roelito wants to heal the rift between his father and older brother Beto. In fact, all three fight against the assumptions of teachers and adults around them. Roelito wishes for teachers to see him as something other than the little brother of a troublemaker. Beto wants his father to quit telling him what to do and acknowledge him as the adult he is about to become. Jessy's greatest hope is for everyone around her to see past her tough girl facade. While rooted in a particular place and time—a modern, working-class Texas neighborhood—Saldana successfully conveys universal truths about growing up. A distinctive narrative voice represents each teen's story—Beto in a limited third person, Roel in first, and Jessy in an unusual second person. Twice, an omniscient narrator links all three voices into one story that has both grit and heart. Teen readers will easily find themselves in this tale of teens seeking both family solidarity and independence, and desiring recognition for their own unique, individual talents. Reviewer: Heather Christensen
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—A coming-of-age novel set in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Beto López is a high school senior who thinks that family rules no longer apply to him. Roelito, an A student, wants to be like his "cool" older brother, yet Beto's bad habits of staying out late, skipping class, and making poor grades concern him. After a late-night confrontation with their father, Beto runs away from home. His first thought is to turn to Jessy, his best friend, for help and guidance. She wants out of her deplorable home life, too, but also wants to go to college and knows that being alone in the world and without plans is never the answer. The story unfolds during a 24-hour period and is advanced through the thoughts and feelings of the three main characters. Jessy wisely concludes that unless you have inner peace, running will not make your situation better. This fast-paced novel will make readers think about their own lives and responsibilities.—Sharon Morrison, Henry G. Bennett Memorial Library, Durant, OK
Kirkus Reviews

Two Rio Grande Valley high schoolers flirt with cutting out early but find reasons to finish school in this purposeful but intense tale. For Beto, it's a combination of pride, disinterest in school and a clash with his caring but harsh father that sends him stalking away to spend the night in a Dumpster. For Beto's longtime friend Jessy, it's a strong desire to be an artist, plus the strain of hearing her father beating her mother and knowing that her turn will be coming up one of these nights, that drives her to head for the bus to San Antonio. Using a mix of tenses and all three persons, Saldaña lays out his characters' thoughts and emotional landscapes in broad strokes—creating a third angle of view by adding Beto's little brother Roelito, who works his nalgas off in school but shows early signs of an ominous anger, as another narrative voice. The action takes place over the course of a little more than 12 hours, neatly capturing the spontaneity of teen impulses. Teen readers chafing at the domestic bit will find food for thought here. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558856073
Publisher:
Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
10/28/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
105
Sales rank:
1,322,046
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

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.

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