Winter 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Benjamin Alire Sáenz returns with another beautifully written story of friendship, family, grief, and belonging. My heart aches after spending a few days with Salvador, Sam, Vicente, Mima, and Fito. All I can say is, I wish I had Sáenz’s writing when I was a teenager, and even more so when I first moved to Texas from México. He represents a people, an experience, with delicate and charming storytelling. But his writing is never directed to one specific age range or only the Mexican-American experience—it is writing for everyone. I am ready for his next book.”
— Eugenia Vela, BookPeople, Austin, TX
A “mesmerizing, poetic exploration of family, friendship, love and loss” from the acclaimed author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. (New York Times Book Review)
Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.
About the Author
Multi-award-winning novelist and poet Benjamin Alire Saenz is the author of several acclaimed books for teens, including the much-lauded Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. He lives in El Paso, TX. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminAlireSa.
“[A] mesmerizing, poetic exploration of family, friendship, love and loss. In Sal, Sáenz gives his readers a young man equal parts strong, vulnerable, wise and loving.” - New York Times Book Review
"Sáenz’s optimistic view of young people — and adults in general — shines through and lifts the reader up." - Hypable.com
"This new novel has all the same qualities that made you fall in love before: deeply human protagonists, a gentle, warm manner of addressing difficult issues, and finding a sense of identity." - Bustle
"Saenz is a treasure whose works should not be missed..." —VOYA
"Sáenz’s distinctive prose style is lyrical and philosophical..." —Horn Book
★ "The themes of love, social responsibility, death, and redemption are expertly intertwined with well-developed characters and acompellingstory line. This complex, sensitive, and profoundly moving book is beautifully written and will stay with readers. VERDICT A must-purchase title, recommended for all school and public libraries." —School Library Journal, starred review
★ "The well-constructed pacing of the novel, with its beautifully expansive prose punctuated by text messages between Sal and Sam, demonstrates the author's talent for capturing the richness of relationships among family and friends. The author of Printz Honor-winning Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) offers another stellar, gentle look into the emotional lives of teens on the cusp of adulthood." —Kirkus, starred review
★ "Written in short chapters that eloquently describe Sal’s deepest fears and most intense moments of affection, the story celebrates compassion and the love of family." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"As Sal tries to understand the way his fists seem to be acting on their own, as he sorts through memories and feelings about mothers in general and his mother in particular, Sal wraps readers in a 464-page hug, sharing longing and insight that ultimately affirms the goodness of strong families with the generosity to draw in and rescue those in need of steady, solid, unconditional love." —Bulletin
"What the world needs now is a book like this one. Profoundly important and moving. Read it."—Bill Konigsberg, Stonewall Award-winning author of Openly Straight and The Porcupine of Truth
“Thought-provoking and uplifting, this compelling coming-of-age novel treats the complexities of being human with compassion, and—above all—love.”—Francisco Jiménez, Pura Belpré Honor-winning author of Breaking Through and Reaching Out
“A needed, lovely, and powerful book”—Connie Griffin, Bookworks, Albuquerque
"Sáenz presents readers with several beautifully drawn relationships... Sal is one of those characters you wonder about after the book is closed. Maybe Sáenz will tell us more."