By Alma Ramos-McDermott
What will Beto do now that he has walked away from the only home he's ever known? It's a question that will keep readers engaged as they follow Beto's journey in the young adult novel "A good long way" by RenÃ© Saldaña Jr. and published by Arte Publico Press.
Beto is sick of his father always telling him what to do. He's a high school senior, ready to graduate in 2 months, and is tired of his dad's rules.
Late one night, after breaking curfew once again, he and his dad have a fight. His younger brother Roelito, who loves school and is the complete opposite of Beto, breaks them up and is crushed when his father tells Beto to leave if he doesn't like the rules. Beto leaves.
Beto heads to his friend Jesse's house for advice. She lives with a drunken dad who beats her mother and, despite her bad girl image, Beto knows she has plans to get out of her dead end life and do something with herself when she graduates.
Jesse, Beto and Roelito's teen voices are heard in varying chapters as they speak their frustrations and tell their stories.
The reader is drawn along as Saldaña uses raw emotion to get across their distresses and small triumphs. As each works through their individual struggles, they mature and learn more about themselves and the world around them.
Teens facing similar struggles will relate to these voices, and gain strength from them.
Alma Ramos-McDermott is a school librarian and part of the Review 'n Receive book review program.