Eddie’s Choice (True-to-Life from Hamilton High)
Eddie Barajas is going into his senior year at Hamilton High School. He and his two best friends, Cameron and Brent, spend a lot of time together and have been friends for years. Eddie’s family is a solid home base for him. His older brother, Mario, has already moved out but their mother, Max, is very present in Eddie’s life. Her significant other, William, an African-American man, and his daughter, Imani, moved in when Eddie was in ninth grade. William is a really good guy, although Imani is a bit of a pest. Eddie works for William’s house painting business and plans to do that full time after high school. He likes the work and feels like it will be a good career for him. Even though he’s had a deformed right hand since birth, it doesn’t get in his way. His teachers and friends tell him he has too much potential to make house painting his life’s work, but Eddie is unshakable in his belief that satisfying, physical work is what he wants for himself. Even college-bound Rosie, a girl he’s getting to know and falling in love with, cannot deter him in his decision.
When Eddie arrives one morning, some terrible racist graffiti is on a wall. Eddie grabs black spray paint from his car and obliterates it before the custodian arrives. Eddie’s action has enraged the people who defaced the wall, a group called the P8riots, and Eddie has a target on his back. The bullying begins online with awful messages about his heritage and his deformed hand, but it doesn’t take long to escalate. One night, Eddie is badly beaten and, when William comes looking for him and finds him shortly before police arrive, William is nearly beaten and arrested until Eddie can speak enough to explain he is his father. Eddie doesn’t see who beat him, but he recognizes one voice. Will he rat the person out? It’s a big choice for him to make.
This is a complex novel with a good deal going on. The characters are largely believable in their actions and ways of speaking. The issues they face are realistic and very contemporary. Today’s high school readers will understand and engage with these characters and their problems. The writing, for the most part, is strong and will pull the readers in and keep them turning pages. That said, there is some serious overwriting that slooooows the story down and could be excised making this a stronger book. For instance, it’s enough to know the family is having salad without needing a list of ingredients. It’s fine to know that the principal drove away without knowing the four or five steps he took to get going or that the three boys had lunch together without a list of every item in their lunch bags. There are many instances of this kind of overwriting that should be cut. Fortunately, the story is truly compelling and will keep most readers engaged enough to complete this good story.
|New Wind Publishing
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