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Bait

by Alex Sanchez


Reviews

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 7 Up-Diego MacMann is in trouble. At 16, he faces juvenile court, charged with assault. He just can't control his fists, especially when he feels that his masculinity is threatened. Anger-management classes have failed, and now this earnest young man teeters between self-loathing and defensive pride. Hope comes unexpectedly when he establishes a bond with Mr. Vidas. The probation officer asks questions that challenge Diego to examine his motivations and his emotional life. How does he feel about his absent birth father? The stepfather who committed suicide? The gay student who looked at him "that way" just before Diego punched him out? The third-person narrative keeps readers one step ahead of Diego as he unravels the effects of abandonment, poverty, and sexual abuse on himself and his struggling family. During the short sessions with Mr. Vidas, he finds some of the tools and insights he needs to navigate his rocky passage to maturity. Unlike most recent fiction that addresses sexual abuse, this story focuses not on the telling of secrets, but on making sense of the experience and building a healthy foundation for moving forward. This groundbreaking novel brings to life an appealing young man who is neither totally a victim nor a victimizer, one who struggles to handle conflicts that derail many young lives. Teens will identify with Diego's dreams and frustrations, his feeling of difference, his yearning for "normal" life and relationships. High interest and accessible, this coming-of-age story belongs in every collection. For the one in six boys who is sexually abused, it could be a lifesaver.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

The author presents an authentic and tender story about a boy trying to cope after years of sexual abuse. Diego's stepfather molested and raped Diego for years-something Diego alone knows, now that his stepfather has committed suicide. To deal with his anger and pain, Diego cuts himself with a sharp shark's tooth and strikes out violently against his peers, landing him in court. Only when he is paired with a sympathetic probation officer can Diego finally admit his secret. Teens may find the shark metaphor that runs through Diego's dream life heavy-handed, but Sanchez (The God Box) does a masterful job explaining the protagonist's complicated emotions as he deals with his past. He worries that the abuse will turn him into a molester or make him gay-and he is angry and afraid when he finds out that the probation officer he trusted is gay. He even feels grief when he finally is able to say good-bye to the stepfather who abused him. All in all, this is a careful examination of a much neglected topic. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

After his explosive anger lands him in court, Diego is assigned a sympathetic parole officer, Mr. Vidas, who doesn't really have time on his overbooked caseload for a relatively low-risk kid like Diego, who behaves at home, helps his younger brother, and gets good grades. Something in Diego's desperation wins Vidas over, though. Acting more as counselor than PO (Sanchez has experience as both), Vidas uncovers the story of sexual abuse that Diego suffered from his stepdad (who recently committed suicide) and guides him through the morass of feelings to a chance at healing. The narrative feels instructive, but the awareness and advice it brings are welcome. Diego's aquarium hobby fits nicely with the metaphor of the shark dreams that haunt him throughout his recovery, and stereotypes about homosexuality are dispelled through several minor subplots. The details of the abuse are clear but not overly graphic, and middle-school libraries should not shy away from purchasing this book on a subject that so many of their students are facing.--Dobrez, Cindy Copyright 2009 Booklist


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

After his explosive anger lands him in court, Diego is assigned a sympathetic parole officer, Mr. Vidas, who doesn't really have time on his overbooked caseload for a relatively low-risk kid like Diego, who behaves at home, helps his younger brother, and gets good grades. Something in Diego's desperation wins Vidas over, though. Acting more as counselor than PO (Sanchez has experience as both), Vidas uncovers the story of sexual abuse that Diego suffered from his stepdad (who recently committed suicide) and guides him through the morass of feelings to a chance at healing. The narrative feels instructive, but the awareness and advice it brings are welcome. Diego's aquarium hobby fits nicely with the metaphor of the shark dreams that haunt him throughout his recovery, and stereotypes about homosexuality are dispelled through several minor subplots. The details of the abuse are clear but not overly graphic, and middle-school libraries should not shy away from purchasing this book on a subject that so many of their students are facing.--Dobrez, Cindy Copyright 2009 Booklist


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