by Alex Sanchez
AR: Not Yet
Interest Level: Upper Grades
The cover of this book caught my eye while I was browsing the new releases at Barnes and Noble. When I read the book's summary, I knew it was a book I had to read. BAIT is the story of Diego, a teenage boy who is living with a great deal of pain and guilt he's carried over from his childhood. He was born in Mexico and came to America as a small boy when his mom married Mac, the man who would become his stepfather--and the only father figure he would ever know. There is more to Diego and Mac's relationship than meets the eye, and when Mac commits suicide, Diego is left to deal with the secrets and lies that are tightly woven into the very essence of who he is as a person.
The book opens with Diego being introduced to Mr. Vidas, his probation officer. He's in trouble for punching a known gay guy in the face for flirting with him. At first, Diego is defiant and reluctant to talk to Mr. Vidas. He has trouble controlling his temper whenever his masculinity is threatened in any way, and he continues to find himself in trouble. It doesn't take long though, for him to realize that Mr. Vidas genuinely cares and wants to help him. Mr. Vidas tells Diego that he has to deal with his anger or it will deal with him--and that one phrase makes so much sense to Diego that he decides to open up to his probation officer. The reader is taken on a painful journey of fear, pain, guilt, abuse, and self-hatred as Diego struggles to deal with his past.
As far as contextual difficulty goes, this book was fairly easy--was it an easy read though? Absolutely not--it was one of the toughest reading experiences I've had in a while. I was so sad for Diego and what he experienced in his childhood--and it really made me stop and think about the kids I come into contact with every day. I consider myself a pretty "with it" adult, but this book really drives home the importance of loving every person--and taking into consideration the things they've been through along life's path. That being said, Sanchez does a fantastic job of driving home the importance of dealing with whatever issues might be eating away at the soul--finding the problem, identifying it, and cutting it out--so the wound is clean and can finally heal.
This was a difficult book to read, but it is a powerful book that I feel will help so many who have been abused. It's definitely not a book that everyone will be comfortable reading, but reading this book could be a life-changing event for someone who really needs it's message.
Well done, Alex Sanchez!