Javier in many ways represents an all too familiar scenario to today’s readers – a teenage boy in a poor urban household, threatening to succumb to a lifestyle of gangs and drugs. Seeing some of his friends already verging dangerously down this path, Javier wishes for a different life, though he has no idea how to escape. An opportunity unexpectedly arises when Javier is assigned to assist the special education class at his school, and he finds inspiration in those students who daily face adversity even greater than his own. While on the surface this plot may sound like it is straight from an after-school special, Castan successfully weaves together a surprisingly engaging and realistic story. Javier proves to be an admirable character with whom many young Latino readers in similar circumstances can identify. Recommended.
Fighting for Dontae. Mike Castan. New York: Holiday House, 2012. 144 pp. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8234-2348-4. Grades 6-9. English.