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The Closest I've Come
Cover of The Closest I've Come
The Closest I've Come
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A Kirkus Best Book of 2017 * A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year * An ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection

Read the book Morris Award finalist Sonia Patel called "a brilliant, subtle debut," and Kirkus hailed as "heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed" in a starred review!

The Closest I've Come is a must-read from talented first-time author Fred Aceves, in the tradition of Walter Dean Myers.

Marcos Rivas yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren't falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood, away from his indifferent mom and her abusive boyfriend—which seems impossible.

When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program, he meets Zach and Amy, whose friendship inspires Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn't about acting tough and being macho; it's about being true to yourself.

The Closest I've Come is a story about traversing real and imagined boundaries, about discovering new things in the world, and about discovering yourself, too.

A Kirkus Best Book of 2017 * A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year * An ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection

Read the book Morris Award finalist Sonia Patel called "a brilliant, subtle debut," and Kirkus hailed as "heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed" in a starred review!

The Closest I've Come is a must-read from talented first-time author Fred Aceves, in the tradition of Walter Dean Myers.

Marcos Rivas yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren't falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood, away from his indifferent mom and her abusive boyfriend—which seems impossible.

When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program, he meets Zach and Amy, whose friendship inspires Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn't about acting tough and being macho; it's about being true to yourself.

The Closest I've Come is a story about traversing real and imagined boundaries, about discovering new things in the world, and about discovering yourself, too.

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About the Author-
  • Fred Aceves was born in New York but spent most of his youth in Southern California and Tampa, Florida, where he lived in a poor, working class neighborhood like the one described in The Closest I've Come. At the age of 21 he started traveling around the world, living in Chicago, New York, the Czech Republic, France, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico, his father's native land. Among other jobs, he has worked as a delivery driver, server, cook, car salesman, freelance editor, and teacher of English as a second language. The Closest I've Come is his first novel.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    September 1, 2017
    A young Latino man grows up in a poor neighborhood in Tampa in this debut that follows him through his sophomore year of high school.Marcos Rivas aches for a relationship with his mom, who does nothing to protect him from her racist, white, live-in boyfriend's physical and verbal abuse. Marcos is keenly lonely despite the company of a tight band of ethnically diverse boys that includes his kind and smart best friend, Obie, a black boy, who shocks and worries Marcos when he decides to start delivering drugs to make money; they all feel the constant weight of poverty pressing upon them. Marcos' authentic, thoughtful, empathic internal voice makes it evident from the start that he is stretched between two worlds: one in which any expression of emotions must be concealed and another in which he feels guilty for pranking his teachers, listens both to hip-hop and to the Smiths, and is afraid of dogs. When he's recommended for a new class at school that identifies bright students who are underachieving, he falls hard for white, punk, tough Amy, a fellow classmate. Aceves infuses the narrative with insight about class, ethnicity, and the intricacies of power between teens and adults, the vitality of Marcos and his friends holding rapt both readers who recognize their world and those who don't.Heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-Marcos Rivas's mother doesn't care about him and never has. She allows her racist boyfriend to abuse the 15-year-old and spends her money on vodka instead of replacing Marcos's holey sneakers and tattered T-shirts. A checked-out mother isn't the only challenge facing the teen, who is growing up in the impoverished neighborhood of Maesta. Marcos typically doesn't even try at school; with no one to believe in him, why would he believe in himself? When a teacher recommends him for a class geared toward underachieving, bright students, he initially assumes his usual prankster role, refusing to learn. Slowly, Marcos begins to realize that while the people you think should care the most might fail you, there are others who won't. A group of quirky and loyal friends and a couple of supportive teachers ultimately provide what his mother cannot: a sense of family and the inspiration to try. The theme of finding family in unexpected places is valuable, and heavy subject material is balanced by ample doses of comedy. The book's nuanced character development is noteworthy, especially as evidenced in Marcos's attitudes toward his evolving friendship with Amy, his major girl crush. While romance features in the novel, it doesn't tie up neatly, lending greater verisimilitude to the work. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and for readers who appreciate gritty and introspective realistic fiction with a sense of humor.-Melissa Williams, Berwick Academy, ME

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 9, 2017
    In a poor neighborhood in central Tampa, Fla., sophomore Marcos Rivas is more worried about avoiding his mother’s abusive, racist boyfriend than about getting good grades. But he also yearns to escape poverty and maybe even get a date with Amy, a classmate with blue-streaked hair and a no-nonsense attitude (“All my life I’ve seen how couples match, in skin or style, and then I get a crush on a white girl who listens to punk”). Aceves sets his first novel in a vividly described community plagued by the familiar demons of addiction, crime, and abuse, as well as rampant racism. Marcos’s narration springs to life as he struggles with complex problems. His best friend is dealing drugs, and his mother—who was 16 when she became pregnant—doesn’t really know how to take care of herself, much less him. Through new friends in Marcos’s after-school program, he realizes that he isn’t alone, an epiphany that permeates the balance of the novel. It’s a memorable, hard-hitting portrait of a teenager trying to shape his own destiny after being dealt a difficult hand. Ages 14–up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency.

  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) "Aceves has written a remarkable debut novel....[E]very reader will enjoy Aceves's deft handling of this coming-of-age journey. The Closest I've Come will be a welcome addition to the growing cannon of quality urban young adult literature."
  • Sonia Patel, author of Morris Award finalist Rani Patel in Full Effect and Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story "A brilliant, subtle debut."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) ★ "Heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed."
  • School Library Journal "Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and for readers who appreciate gritty and introspective realistic fiction with a sense of humor."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) ★ "[A] memorable, hard-hitting portrait of a teenager trying to shape his own destiny after being dealt a difficult hand."
  • B&N Teen Blog "It takes about half a page of this debut to become convinced Aceves is an author to watch, but there's no point at which you'll want to put down his strongly voiced coming-of-age, perfect for fans of When I Was the Greatest."
  • Paste Magazine "A debut that's as stunning as it is powerful, Aceves' novel is a story is a complex story about family and friendships. Don't sleep on this one."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "Effective, and there's a refreshing subversion of literary expectation...The accessible writing brings this story to a wide range of readers."
  • Bookish.com "[E]xplores the nuances of class and ethnicity through the eyes of a hero that readers will love rooting for."
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