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We Were Here by Matt de la Pena
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We Were Here

by Matt de la Pena

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Great read for HS boys-some rough situations, but positive message. ( )
  kimpiddington | Jun 24, 2011 |
Reviewed by Mrs. Foley

This is a Gateway nominee for 2011-2012. I really enjoyed De La Pena's book, Mexican WhiteBoy, and he didn't disappoint this time either. His characters do have a lot in their lives to deal with, but they feel so real and believable that you just know there are those everyday who are dealing with things as difficult or worse. It is a sad reality, but he always leaves hope.

Review from School Library Journal:
Miguel struggles to forgive himself for a tragic event that changed his life and his family forever. He willingly accepts his one-year sentence to a juvenile detention center and the requirement that he keep a journal. De La Peña uses the conceit of the journal to tell the story in Miguel's words. At the center, Miguel befriends Rondell, a mentally challenged teen prone to violent outbursts, and Mong, a troubled boy with myriad physical and emotional problems. Mong organizes an escape, and with little apparent thought, Miguel and Rondell agree to join him. The boys' convoluted travels take them up and down the California coast and are recorded in Miguel's journal, along with his personal journey of self-discovery. It is frustrating that the salient event, the one that led to Miguel's incarceration, is kept from readers, and most other characters, until the end of the book. Once the truth of what happened is exposed, it is difficult to comprehend the callousness shown to Miguel by other family members; in fact, readers may question why he was imprisoned at all. The premise of juvenile delinquents on the run, camping out, and trying to survive and to find themselves will appeal to teens, but the story is just too drawn out to hold the interest of most of them. ( )
  hickmanmc | Jun 20, 2011 |
As far as I’m concerned this is the best YA book of the year. Three teenagers escape from a juvenile home, steal the home’s petty cash, and try to make their way to Mexico. It is a coming of age story told with a realistic, funny and heartbreaking voice. The characters are very real and likeable, and that just makes seeing them make a string of bad decisions so much harder. This is a book to recommend to both a reluctant boy reader, and a more sophisticated reader looking for something with substance. ( )
  mattsya | Mar 29, 2011 |
What Miguel did was so terrible he can't talk about it. he can't tell anyone what he did. As far as he is concerned, nothing he does matters. His life is meaningless. His punishment--sentencing to a group home for 1 year and writing a journal--is light. he just plans to do his time and avoid connections with anyone. That is, until Mong, the "psycho", ultra-violent resident of the group home asks him to escape together. Miguel, Mong, and another resident, Rondell, begin a journey down California's coast to Mexico, where they learn about friendship, loyalty and courage, and where Miguel finds the inner resources to make peace with himself. ( )
  elizabethholloway | Nov 4, 2010 |
Reviewed by Melanie Foust for TeensReadToo.com

After what he's done, Miguel is sentenced to a year in a group home, as well as an assignment to write in a journal in order to allow the counselors to have a look into his mind. Miguel sees being sent away from his home as a good thing. His mother can't even look at him anymore.

After a short time in juvi, he's sent to a group home, and there he meets Mong, a teen who no one messes with. After a few weeks, Rondell, a guy who was Miguel's roommate during juvi, moves in. Rondell can't read, but he won't admit it.

Time passes, then Mong invites Miguel to break out and head to Mexico for a new life. Rondell asks to come along. They break out together. An Asian, half-Mexican, and African-American teen head out to Mexico, and the journey will change Miguel forever.

Although WE WERE HERE takes a while to get into, the story is important and powerful. All three teens must deal with the inner demons that haunt them, and they do so in drastically different ways. Miguel's viewpoint is gritty and real. He doesn't gloss over unpleasant details. Once you're drawn into this novel, though, its characters and their actions are memorable ones that won't be quickly forgotten. ( )
  GeniusJen | May 18, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385736673, Hardcover)

The story of one boy and his journey to find himself.

When it happened, Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge gave him a year in a group home—said he had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he actually did Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened, his mom can’t even look at him in the face. Any home besides his would be a better place to live.

But Miguel didn’t bet on meeting Rondell or Mong or on any of what happened after they broke out. He only thought about Mexico and getting to the border to where he could start over. Forget his mom. Forget his brother. Forget himself.

Life usually doesn’t work out how you think it will, though. And most of the time, running away is the quickest path right back to what you’re running from.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Haunted by the event that sentences him to time in a group home, Miguel breaks out with two unlikely companions and together they begin their journey down the California coast hoping to get to Mexico and a new life.

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