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The Domino Effect by Andrew Cotto
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The Domino Effect

by Andrew Cotto

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In his childhood neighborhood Danny Rorro, better known as Domino, faced challenges just like most teenage kids. He had gone to a catholic school and dealt with bullies and scary nuns. Now at a different school, a private school called Hamden Academy, the girl of his dreams for the most part doesn't see him in the light he would prefer. His past and all of his anxieties of being alone and friendless always seem to follow him and leave him feeling sorry for himself.

Time can heal all wounds. A perfect moment at the right time, Danny takes a chance. Instead of giving up he actually goes for it. His prize, Brenda Divine, she is that girl, the one. Finally, the door was opened and Danny walked bravely through it with no fear. He and Brenda, were becoming friends and maybe more. They made plans together and shared stories and secrets. Danny never wanted this to change or end. Not only that, he was becoming a guy all about sports and making friends.

Unfortunately, things do change. No matter what Danny does the bullies are everywhere. One night he'd come back to the dorm to discover his room had been violated by some unseen force. Friendships he thought were secure were starting to unravel from all the social pressures teens face. Between that and the school sports fanatics, Danny finds himself falling down the rabbit hole yet again. Home visits on school breaks weren’t a relief but an extra stress. Danny thought he finally was getting it all together and keeping it that way. Could he hold on to these moments that meant so much to him or would his life unravel? Could he continue to stand tall and be the guy he wanted to be? He just wants to be a guy with friends, sports, a girl and a social life.

Cotto has created a recognizable story that any boy who is having the growing pains of being a teenager can relate too. Boy teens want to be popular, good at sports and most importantly, they want to have someone they cherish and that will cherish them. But like any teen, there are those obstacles that get in the way. Issues with parents, teachers and bullies are always the woven thread that creates the snags that pop up in life. Cotto has poured all the emotion of being a teen into this novel. It's not surprising that he is the winner of the Silver Medal in readers favorite for coming of age YA. ( )
  KristiBernard | Oct 8, 2012 |
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

While this is in the realm of YA, this is not the typical book that I read. That said, I really enjoyed The Domino Effect. This book focuses on the internal and external journey of Danny (Domino) as he goes through his turbulent teenage years. We travel with him through his rough childhood and growing up in his Italian family as well as going with him to boarding school where he juggles a beautiful girlfriend, wrestling bullies, and a nerdy roommate.

The strength of this novel is in its characters. Danny himself is painfully unaware of the teachings of his father for most of the book-- like most teenagers, all he can think about is himself and his problems. I loved how he grew and developed throughout the book and finally learned how to care for others the hard way (which always seems to be the case in the teenage years!!!). I thought that Brenda Divine was a terrific character, and she got her moment of glory in the end, which I appreciated.

The one thing that I was less enamored with was the conversations between Danny and the guys. It was harder to read because most of them had some type of lingo, and there were pages of just joshing around-- which while accurate, took away from the main storyline for me. That said, there was a wonderful moment between Danny and his roommate Sam, which I loved.

Overall, this was a wonderful book, and I greatly enjoyed reading it. ( )
  chickey1981 | Jul 28, 2012 |
Danny (Domino) Rorro struggles with his past and he stumbles toward his future. After bad experiences in Queens leave him bitter and depressed he is sent to Hamden Academy boarding school. There he makes new friends, discovers romance, makes enemies, has heartbreaks, and he even learns an important lesson that had drove a wedge in his relationship with his father.
I enjoy good coming of age stories, especially these days. The Domino Effect is great because it has every ingredient needed to predict how the character will live their life. Coming of age stories don’t need to be overly dramatic or manuals for better living. Mr. Cotto found the right balance to tell a great and completely realistic story of a boy learning how to be a man. I have already told a friend about it and will continue to tell more. ( )
  shayrp76 | Jul 2, 2012 |
Danny Rorro's a mostly nice kid from Queens, who's grown up with a solid Italian family and comfortable neighborhood. All that changes when he's attacked with a bat toward the end of his freshman year -- an attack driven by racism because his music teacher father had been singing on the stoop with the newer Hispanic neighbors. Moving to Catholic school the next year is far worse, partly because Danny is struggling to deal with his rage, and near the end of the year his psychiatrist recommends switching to boarding school: Hamden Academy. There, Danny meets Brenda Divine, the girl of his dreams, who ends up dating his roommate, Todd, instead of him. When Todd doesn't show up for their senior year, Danny gets a new roommate: Terence King. Terence is the lone black student, on scholarship for basketball, and he is an easy target for the untouchable star wrestlers who rule the school through winning everything. Racism, prejudice,and bullying are all part of life at Hamden Academy, and Danny really does want to do what's right - to stop the domino effect of one bad deed leading to another. That's always difficult, but even more so when you're creating your own domino effects through your mistakes. Danny's mistakes are realistic and believable, as are the consequences for him and for those around him, and his efforts to remedy the situations are pretty inventive (spray paint, duct tape, prune juice and twine... what could this high school MacGyver do with those?). At the end, Danny's realizations about what he's done and how he saw things - or missed seeing things - came off a bit more adult than I was expecting given his character, but I thought overall this was very well done. I'll be waiting to see which 8th graders I get this year that might be ready for this one, and I'll be recommending it to my favorite readers who come back from the high school to visit. ( )
  KarenBall | Sep 23, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0615479677, Paperback)

A FINALIST for the 2012 Readers Favorite Award, The Domino Effect is the story of Danny Rorro, a charismatic kid from Queens poisoned by the past. A series of painful defeats have left him scarred and isolated from his neighborhood, his parents, and, most significantly, the benevolent ways of his childhood when he was known as "Domino." With great insight, imagery and wit, Danny recalls his past in Queens and his coming-of-age at Hamden Academy. This fast paced and powerful story is rich with conflict, humor, tenderness and music--just like life, especially when coming-of-age.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:20 -0400)

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