I just finished the book Muchacho by Louanne Johnson.  I picked it up in the bookstore on the sole basis of who the writer was. Years ago when I first started teaching I read a book by the same woman called My Posse Don’t Do Homework. It was about a teacher who had to use very unorthodox methods of teaching to gain the trust of her students in an inner city school. Later it became a movie called Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeifer.   When I was booktalking this book the other day, giving background infomation, most all of my students had a blank look on their faces…. I guess I really aged myself 🙂 
 
Eddie Corazon is a juvenile deliquent and I like him. He also happens to be very smart but being smart is not necessarily the thing to be in his neighborhood.  Eddie attends Bright Horizons an alternative high school in the area where smart people are ridiculed and in order to avoid that he keeps his intellect on the down low. Still he promised his Mami that he would graduate high school and he plans on sticking to his promise.  Sometimes though it seems like an awfully hard promise to keep.   
 
Ms. Beecher taught at Bright Horizons for a short time before she was run off. It’s too bad too cause she was one of the good ones. The kids could’ve learned a lot from her.  She made an impression on Eddie whether he admits it out loud or not.  She taught with books, had thought provoking discussions and he even took ballroom dancing lessons because of her. Ms. Beecher was one smart lady cause if Eddie didn’t take that ballroom dancing class, he would have never met Lupe, a girl that totally ends up rocking his world.

A few things led to Eddie’s change of direction in school.  Lupe, who completely believed in him and who saw things that others didn’t have the opportunity to was the biggest influence. She knew he had a good heart which she learned through the poetry he writes.  She brings out the best in him.  I really loved all the poetry written by Eddie that was sprinkled throughout the book, especially the one title Lupe Full of Grace. 

There are just a chockful of authors who write books who have Mexican or Mexican American YA protagonists.  The first author that comes to mind is Gary Soto.  I think it is vital that teens from minority backgrounds have characters with life experiences that reflect their own and as a media specialist, I would recommend this book. Muchacho was a  good read because it modeled incredibly good behavior and actions.

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