Teen Scene

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork
Pancho is a poor orphan living in New Mexico, sent to an orphanage as an alternative to going to juvenile detention. He’s angry about the recent deaths of his sister and father, and is looking for the release of a good fight. At the orphanage, he’s given a job: the main caregiver for another boy, D.Q., who is dying from a rare form of cancer.  D.Q., who is in the process of declaring himself an independent minor, is all that Pancho’s not: sensitive, confident, emotionally strong, self-aware. Pancho does the basic work of caring for D.Q., but nothing will deter him from his main goal: to revenge the death of his sister. His developmentally disabled sister died in a hotel where she had sex with a man, and Pancho is convinced she was killed. The long middle section of the book involves Pancho following D.Q. to his hometown for a hospital stay and meeting his family, as well as the girl that D.Q. has a crush on, Marisol. While the resolution of the book is both unexpected and satisfying, getting there was tedious as times.  While a girl may enjoy reading this book by the award-winning author, Francisco X. Stork, this plainly written, emotionally sparse, gritty book seems particularly well-suited to teen boys. Grade 8 and up.

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