In the 1960s, Rico Fuentes, a pale-skinned Cuban American teenager, abandons drug-infested New York City for the picket fence and apple pie world of Wisconsin, only to discover that he still feels like an outsider and that violent and judgmental people can be found even in the wholesome Midwest.
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Rico Fuentes is a “dark dude”. He is 100% Cuban but he has blonde hair, light skin with freckles and hazel colored eyes. Everyone in his 1960’s Harlem neighborhood thinks he’s white and that he doesn’t belong there. As if that weren’t difficult enough, his father drinks too much, his mother who is always picking fights with him and one of his best friends, Gilberto, goes away to Wisconsin on a scholarship.
Rico hates high school and is constantly nervous there. One day there is a shooting and the school is closed. Most of the other kids feel like it is a holiday but it makes Rico sick inside. Things seem to get worse as he starts to skip school and his one remaining best friend Jimmy starts using drugs more and more.
When his parents catch him skipping out on school they get ready to send him to military school in Florida. Before that can happen Rico makes a clean break and decides to hitchhike with Jimmy to Wisconsin he thinks he can fit in better, reunite with Gilberto and where all of them can escape the problems of the big city.
But is it really possible for Rico to leave his problems behind?
Grades 9-12, 439 pages
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