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Mexican WhiteBoy

Overview

Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
   But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who ...

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Mexican WhiteBoy

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Overview

Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
   But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
   That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see—the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.
   Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.

An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
A Junior Library Guild Selection

"[A] first-rate exploration of self-identity."-School Library Journal

"Unique in its gritty realism and honest portrayal of the complexities of life for inner-city teens...De la Peña poignantly conveys the message that, despite obstacles, you must believe in yourself and shape your own future."-The Horn Book Magazine

"The baseball scenes...sizzle like Danny's fastball...Danny's struggle to find his place will speak strongly to all teens, but especially to those of mixed race."-Booklist

"De la Peña blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity."-Kirkus Reviews

"Deftly explores the subject of interracial mixing."-Multicultural Review

"Matt de la Pena has done the impossible; fired a perfect fastball on the low inside corner and hit a towering home run at the same time. A tough, funny, edgy, hopeful story about friendship under fire and love in its true sense."-Chris Crutcher, author of Deadline and Whale Talk

"Mexican Whiteboy...shows that no matter what obstacles you face, you can still reach your dreams with a positive attitude. This is more than a book about a baseball player—this is a book about life."-Curtis Granderson, New York Mets outfielder

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rosa Roberts
Regardless of their gender, adolescent readers will thoroughly enjoy this book. The author is a phenomenal storyteller. The characters are dynamic and authentic, so readers can easily relate to them. The dialogue enables readers to empathize with the struggles of the main character, Danny. Danny yearns to be accepted by both of the two worlds he is caught between, that of his white mother and classmates and that of his Mexican father. Out of this longing, Danny hopefully reunites with his father while on summer break from the private boarding school where he does not fit in. Instead of opting to be with his mother and her new boyfriend in San Francisco, Danny heads to San Diego, National City, with his father's relatives. Through his experiences with his father's side of the family, Danny comes to terms with the reasons behind his father's absence. Danny's talent as a great baseball pitcher is his salvation as he gains strength, confidence, and self-awareness. This book is a compelling read, and adolescents will not be disappointed with the themes of acceptance, friendship and multiculturalism. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Parallel lives intersect as Danny Lopez spends the summer with his Mexican father's relatives, although he does not really fit in because he is half-white and does not speak a word of Spanish. Almost immediately, Danny comes into conflict with African American Uno during a baseball mishap. Slowly before readers' eyes, both boys' worlds develop. Senior, Uno's father, has found religious reformation and is trying to impart wisdom onto his son, whereas Danny plans to fly farther south and track down his dad in Mexico. De la Pe±a does an excellent job of showing readers the potential his characters possess and what they will have to pursue in the days ahead. Danny's cousin Sofia is Uno's romantic interest and she also seems on the cusp of making strong, positive choices for herself. Readers come to care for both Danny and Uno as they finally come together through the sport they both love. Everyone in the book faces mountains of obstacles, and in a fantastic move by the author that is not cloying or obvious, they also have the temerity to overcome them. De la Pe±a makes their world feel real by not shying away from the harsh realities. Readers see themselves in Danny, Uno, and Sofia, whether or not they share their backgrounds. In the end, they find themselves wanting the characters to succeed. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Half-Mexican, half-white, Danny feels he's too brown to fit in at his snooty San Diego prep school, but when he goes to spend the summer with his sassy cousin Sofia and his father's family in old-town National City, he feels too pale. There's this pretty girl there, but she speaks very little English. Danny doesn't speak Spanish, and so he tries to talk as little as possible; and he cuts himself, because often only pain feels real to him. He's intimidated at first by the neighborhood kids, especially tough-talking Uno, who's half-African American and half-Mexican. Uno badly wants to make some money so he can get to go live with his dad. Baseball is the great equalizer: Danny is an amazing pitcher, though he lacks control. Can he pull it together to pull off hustles with Uno and help his new friend out? There's much more going on here than just baseball: some surprising realizations about fathers, family, and street violence, related in street slang (with some obscenities) and terrific dialogue. de la Pena, author of Ball Don't Lie, makes it all feel very real. This is a winner, just like Danny, in the end. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

No matter where he lives, 16-year-old Danny Lopez is an outsider. At his private high school in wealthy northern San Diego County, "nobody paid him any attention...because he was Mexican." It didn't matter that he was half white. But when he visits the Mexican side of his family in National City, just a dozen miles from the border, Danny feels "Albino almost" and ashamed. He doesn't even speak Spanish. Rather than learning to blend in, Danny disengages from both worlds, rarely speaking and running his mind in circles with questions about how he might have kept his absent father from leaving the family. He decides to spend the summer in National City, hoping to get closer to his dad's roots and learn how to be "real" and stop feeling numb. Instead, he finds that, by the end of the summer, he has filled the void through unexpected friendship and love. In this first-rate exploration of self-identity, Danny's growth as a baseball pitcher becomes a metaphor for the conflicts he must overcome due to his biracial heritage. Dialogue written in a coarse street vernacular and interwoven with Spanish is awkward to read at first-like Danny, readers are made to feel like outsiders among the hard-edged kids of National City. But as the characters develop, their language starts to feel familiar and warm, and their subtle tenderness becomes more apparent. A mostly linear plot (with occasional flashbacks), plenty of sports action, and short chapters make this book a great pick for reluctant or less-experienced readers.-Madeline Walton-Hadlock, San Jose Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Angry with his Caucasian mother and feeling removed from his Hispanic heritage, 16-year-old Danny decides to spend the summer with his father's relatives in an attempt to re-forge his identity. It's a busy summer-he's both running a pitching scam with Uno, a disillusioned interracial teenager, and falling in love with Liberty, a recently arrived immigrant. Danny's sophomoric plan to find his missing dad reflects a balance between idealism and stupidity, especially since astute readers will quickly deduce the whereabouts of his father. While Danny's self-inflicted wounds are physical manifestations of his identity crisis, de la Pe-a depends too heavily on the absent-parent motif for emotional justification. Danny's internal voice occasionally grates, but the earnest emotions portrayed in his imagined letters to his father easily correct for this. Boisterous adult characters serve as outstanding foils for Danny and his friends, especially Senior, Uno's domineering father, who is given to rodomontade. Though not an out-of-the-park follow-up to 2005's Ball Don't Lie, de la Pe-a blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440239383
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/12/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 66,971
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Mexican Whiteboy is Matt de la Peña’s second novel. He attended the University of the Pacific on a basketball scholarship and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at San Diego State University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. Look for Matt’s other books, Ball Don’t Lie, We Were Here, I Will Save You, and The Living, all available from Delacorte Press. You can visit him at mattdelapena.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Dressed in a well-worn Billabong tee, camo cargo shorts and a pair of old-school slip-on Vans, Danny Lopez follows his favorite cousin, Sofia, as she rolls up on the cul-de-sac crowd with OG swagger.

A bunch of heads call out to her, "Hey, Sofe!" "Yo, girl!" "There she is!" and wave.

Sofia waves back, pulls Danny by the arm toward a group of girls sitting on a blanket in an uneven semicircle. "Oye putas," she says. "Yo, this my cousin Danny I was telling you about. He's gonna be staying with me for the summer." She smiles big—proud, Danny thinks. "Yo, cuz, these are my girls." She points them out and rattles off names: "Carmen, Raquel, Angela, Bee, Juanita, Flaca and Guita."

"Hey," the girls singsong in unison.

Danny nods with a shy smile, aims his eyes at the asphalt. He feels the heat of their stares and for a second he wishes he could morph into one of the ants zigzagging in and out of tiny crevices in the street. Their little lives, he thinks, totally off the radar.

Danny's sixteen, a shade over six foot and only a year younger than Sofia, but unless he's on a pitching mound he feels like a boy. He's long and thin with skinny arms hanging down skinny thighs—his arm length the reason he can fire a fastball so hard. His shoulders are wide, but his muscles have yet to catch up. Sometimes when he sees himself in a mirror it looks like his shirt is propped up by an upside-down coat hanger. Not a human body. Doesn't even look real.

And Danny's brown. Half-Mexican brown. A shade darker than all the white kids at his private high school, Leucadia Prep. Up there, Mexican people do under-the-table yard work and hide out in the hills because they're in San Diego illegally. Only other people on Leucadia's campus who share his shade are the lunch-line ladies, the gardeners, the custodians. But whenever Danny comes down here, to National City—where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live—he feels pale. A full shade lighter. Albino almost.

Less than.

"And just so you know," Sofia adds, "Danny ain't no big talker, all right? He's mad smart, gets nothin' but A's at the best private school in San Diego, but don't get your chones in a bunch if you can't never pull him into a convo." Sofia looks prettier than Danny remembers. Less of a tomboy. Her hair long now, makeup around her eyes.
Carmen clears her throat, says: "He don't need to talk to give me no deep-tissue massage." She gives Danny an exaggerated wink.

"Ain't need no words for us to soak in a nice Jacuzzi bath together," Flaca says. She reaches out, puts her hand on one of Danny's Vans. "We can just sit there, Papi. Backs against them jet thingies. Take turns sippin' a little white Zin and shit. How's that sound, beautiful?"

Danny gives her a polite smile, but inside he's shrinking. He's trying to suck back into his shell, like a poked and prodded snail.

Behind his back he grips his left wrist, digs his fingernails into the skin until a sharp pain floods his mind, makes him feel real.

Angela and Bee comb Danny over with their almond-shaped eyes, devour his out-of-place surfer style like a pack of rabid dogs. Danny cringes at how different he must seem to his cousin's friends. They're all dark chocolate-colored, hair sprayed up, dressed in pro jerseys and Dickies, Timberlands. Gold and silver chains. Calligraphy-style tats. Danny's skin is too clean, too light, his clothes too soft.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    I LOVE RACIST BOOKS

    I LOVE RACIST BOOKS

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    Wow!!!

    I absolutely love this book! My LA teacher was making us read this book. After a few pages, I was hooked. It's real, I guess. It doesn't create some sort of plot that will never happen in real life: many people can definitely relate to this book. I would totally reccommend this book. Warning: This book has many cuss words, and some situations that you don't want young children reading. I suggest that teens read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Mexican Whiteboy is a must read!

    For school I had to get a book with a theme of tolerance, and most of my classmates were choosing books about the holocaust. I too was going to read a holocaust book, but then I found this one. I read it very quickly and could hardly put it down! I've never read a book written from a boy's point of view (besides being forced to in class) and was a little unsure of reading a book about from a boy's point of view and about baseball, but I genuinely enjoyed it! Girls, if you don't think you'll like this book because it's a boy telling the story, I'm sure you will love it! I'd recommend this book to any teenager.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2009

    Mexican Whiteboy. By T.E. in College Comp. 1st period

    Mexican Whiteboy was a book that had to be read in one sitting, not only because it was good, but because it was easier to follow that way. The book starts out with a fight between two half mexican boys - only difference: one is half black, Uno, and the other half white, Danny. However, the fight doesn't stop them from becoming good friends. They then set out to earn five hundred dollars so Uno can move out of the ghetto and live with his dad. Uno and Danny make the money by hustling baseball. Danny is an amazing pitcher with some control issues. Uno is an amazing Catcher with the will to help Danny through it. Mexican Whiteboy is an adventurous tale about how you can find friends in the most unlikely of places, and how you can find yourself making the best out of something that isn't very good. The book touches on some sensative points such as racism, gang violence, and underage abuse of drugs and alcohol, but the author does it in a way that it can't be taken offensively. I enjoyed this book because it made me think how mexicans outcast those who have any white in them, and how hard some people have it. Everyone will like Mexican Whiteboy because it has many genres of reading in it - sports, adventure, drama, and mystery. It's a quick, easy and thought - provoking read. Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Dont understand

    It can be the mexican it is races

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    I loved this book. I had to read this book for English class and

    I loved this book. I had to read this book for English class and it turned out to be a very well written book. I liked how the two main characters faced the same conflict in a way and how they overcame the conflict, i would recommend this book to anyone trying to read a book about baseball and action. 

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    Great story! Very believable.

    .

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Trilling by the pages!!

    This story is true to life in some parts, it shows that you can always fit in anywhere by being yourselve I must say the ending is very unexpected not gomna spoil it more to you but this is a MUST BUY BOOK!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2011

    An Amazing Book

    Mexican Whiteboy by Mat De La Pena is a book that takes place in the present day National City, California. Danny, the book's main character, is a half white half Mexican teenage boy who spends the summer with his dad's family in National City, with hopes of finding his dad who left him at a young age. While he is in National City he makes a friend named Uno through baseball, Danny is an amazing pitcher who lacks control but still helps Uno pull of hustles. Throughout the book Danny has realizations about his dad, his family, and street violence. This book is a must-read for all readers. It is an inspirational book that many teenagers can relate to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2008

    cool:D

    this book is awesome, it gets you hooked from the very begining. it is very realistic and i liked it a lot. it would get a little boring at parts though.i really recommed you read it!it was a fun book and can get you thinking.after this i am going to read this authors first book Ball Don't Lie! please read this book! it rocked!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    Important Book

    I work in the public school system and so many of our kids are of a mixed race back background these days. I was so happy to been pointed in the direction of this wonderfully complex and sweet novel about a BOY trying to figure out who he is. Absolutely recommend this to everybody, but especially teens!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 26, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2009

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    Posted October 1, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2011

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    Posted August 14, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

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    Posted December 7, 2011

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    Posted October 5, 2010

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