A Fighting Chance

By Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Publisher: Piñata Books – Arte Público Press (Houston, Texas)

This story is set in Salinas, California and captures the struggles of a teenage boy living in poverty yet with a dream to succeed. The author has not only done a great job of bringing this element of raw survival forth, but she has also woven intrigue, gang life, murder, and a love story into the plot. The author’s gift at writing is extremely notable in that she captured the essence of a male character perfectly. What an unexpected treat.

The story really takes you into the life of Miguel Angel who wants to be a champion fighter to help his family out of poverty, but as life would have it the city is threatening to take the packing shed away.

Miguel Angel has met a girl from the other side of the tracks and this in itself presents other problems; culture, love, young parenthood, etc. In addition, Miguel has a close friend who is involved with gangs and is conflicted as to how to deal with this issue. There are many obstacles being thrown towards Miguel and it’s interesting how the author spins the story to make it all come together. I really couldn’t put it down and read it in one day because I wanted to know the outcome, a testament to a great story teller.

The story is written in third person. This allows the reader to get an overall perspective of each of the characters and their world – a good strategy to storytelling. The author has so much dialogue and scenes, which creates a lot of tension and moves the story forward perfectly. It’s a page turner. You know it’s a good story when you want to see what happens next, but you don’t want the book to end.

Although the book was written for young adults, it’s very much an adult book as well. I found it thoroughly entertaining and I got caught up in the drama and the overall plot. Great job Ms. Meléndez Salinas! This is a testament to your skill.

I would highly recommend this book to be in libraries across the United States because it captures the essence of struggles many of our teenagers experience in this country, but yet it provides hope. These are the type of books that will possibly get our teenagers reading more and understanding that no matter what is tossed at you, you can succeed. This was not only an entertaining read, but a story with a message. Definitely, definitely, definitely recommend it!

Book was supplied by author and reviewed by Corina Martinez Chaudhry.

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