Microreview: The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

The Closest I’ve Come by Fred

Aceves: 

Young Adult

320 pages

Published November 7th 2017

HarperTeen
Marcos Rivas wants to find love.
He’s sure as hell not getting it at home, where his mom’s racist boyfriend beats him up. Or from his boys, who aren’t exactly the “hug it out” type. Marcos yearsn for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood — impossible.
When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program for troubled teens with potential, he meets Zach, a theatre geek whose life seems great on the surface, and Amy, a punk girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. These new friendships inspire Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and along the way, Marcos starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.
This raw and funny coming-of-age novel is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming, a must read from talented debut author Fred Aceves.
Why I liked this book (and why you might, too):
  • Marcos is an idiot. BUT! He’s an honest idiot who is trying.
  • (I actually did like Marcos, btw. He is just. teen boy oblivious for a good portion of the story.)
  • The dialogue and descriptions. When Marcos is talking with his boys, you can practically smell the scorched rubber in the sun, see the weeds growing through the cement, hear the city sounds and neighbours swearing.
  • Marcos and his boys’ blend of toughness and vulnerability, and (related) of posing and of perception.
  • Zach, theatre kid, geek, good friend.
  • Amy, tough and determined, good friend.
  • The raw truth in the story.

Here’s a fun test: tell people your dad’s an asshole ’cause he ain’t around, or ’cause he beats you with a tire iron. You’ll get a that’s-life shrug. But tell them your mom ain’t exactly the greatest person who ever lived and they don’t believe you. (44)

  • The boys: Obie (Marcos’s best friend), Art (the brokest of them all), Ruben (handsome and short), Jason (Whiteboy).
  • The best reason is (slight spoiler) Marcos’ growth from wanting a girlfriend to talk emotions with to realizing how he’s screwed up by girlfriend-zoning someone who trusted him, and moving from wanting a woman (girlfriend or mom) to fix things to building that trusting, even vulnerable relationship with his boys. Got your back, and not just in the physical tough-guy sense.
  • The story is hard (Brian can die. just. die.) and satisfying.

Maesta got my back.

Books of Wonder: A Poem for Peter

Books of Wonder: A Poem for Peter

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson, is a joy to read from start to finish. The story begins with the narrator’s delight in Peter, the protagonist of Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, as […]

Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence; illustrated by François Thisdale

Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence; illustrated by François Thisdale

wanisin (she is lost) Missing Nimâma is a difficult book to read without weeping, and a difficult book to write about for much the same reason: it is the story of Kateri Cardinal, a Cree girl whose mother is lost – one of the 1181+ Indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing since […]

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

I have a number of things to get done, and you are quite obviously someone who gets things done.” (p. 346-347) As I mentioned earlier, Stacey Lee’s Outrun the Moon has my new favourite protagonist, Mercy Wong, THE most indomitable, march into your heart and take no prisoners young woman I’ve had the pleasure of reading […]

Review: These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens

Review: These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens

At last the Dear Canada series has a book featuring an Indigenous protagonist*! Ruby Slipperjack, who is herself Eabeametoong and who was sent to a Residential School at the age of seven, has written the diary of Violet (Pynut) Pesheens. Violet is thirteen when she is sent to study at one of Northern Ontario’s Residential Schools. The year […]