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He’d give anything to be out there playing instead of standing here watching. Trying to maintain this smile out of respect. He digs into his wrists some more with his nails. Breaks previously broken skin and pulls away. A smear of blood he wipes away with his other hand, rubs off across his dark jeans. Back home his mom is always on him to stop digging, but that only makes him want to dig more.  --Danny

Powerful. Passionate. Heartbreaking.

MEXICAN WHITE BOY by Matt de la Peňa  (Delacorte Press, 2008) is a story of friendship, revelations, acceptance, and finding courage and strength in the face of adversity. Danny’s mother is more worried about her new husband than her son. Danny happily goes to visit his father’s family for the summer, planning to run off to Mexico and find his dad and stay with him. But there are secrets that he is not prepared for, and that hurt more than anything. Danny is lost in a dark place, until a true friendship gives him the courage to accept and move on.  (Warning. There is a suicide attempt in this story.)

SUMMARY:   Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it. But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico. That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see--the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   MEXICAN WHITE BOY is Matt de la Peña’s second novel. He attended the University of the Pacific on a basketball scholarship and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at San Diego State University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. Look for Matt's other books, Ball Don’t LieWe Were HereI Will Save You, and The Living, for which he received the Pura Belpré Author Honor Award, all available from Delacorte Press. You can also visit him at and follow @mattdelapena on Twitter.