I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this book when Unbridled books first sent it to me. The back cover has a fantastic one line synopsis
A seventeen-year-old gangbanger moves with his Eskimo mother from Los Angeles to the remote Alaskan village where she grew up
I’m partial to literature about ganglife, especially moving away from ganglife because a good portion of the teens in my library’s neighborhood are in a gang, or on the edge of it. Its good to have some type of literature that they can relate to and use as inspiration to step away from that path.
This book, however, is a little more philosophical and less about ganglife. It is about reincarnation, about fresh starts, guilty pasts, and regrets.
Caesar is a product of his environment. His other brother Wicho, is a gangbanger who shot a couple 15 year old kids and wound up with a life sentence in jail. Caesar followed in his footsteps, running with gangs, until his mother finally had enough and moved them back to her hometown in Alaska. This poses a complete 180 for Caesar. Despite knowing the ganglife, Caesar was not opposed to moving to Alaska, even though he and his cousin Go-Boy made a bet that Caesar would not move back to LA after one year.
Go-Boy is the catalyst for any and all change we see in Caesar. Go-Boy’s optimism, confidence and attitude helps shape the way Caesar see’s his role in this world. The characters are filled with faults, and regrets and that is what makes them real to me. The characters aren’t sugar coated, nor do they feel forced to be too real, as in other books I’ve read. Each person has their insecurities, their skeletons and their way of dealing with tragedies. Go-Boy has manic mood swings and believes he is part of a good world conspiracy to bring heaven to Earth. Go-Boy is the more spiritual of the two, hand-drawing an Eskimo female Jesus tattoo on his arm each day, as a reminder of his faith in God, himself and others. To me, this book is about transformations, community and love. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book that leaves you pondering many questions after each paragraph. The chronology of the book jumps around a lot, with later chapters taking place before earlier chapters. It is a good tool used to explain why Go-Boy is in a certain mood during an earlier chapter, and its a nice way to shed some background light on a scene without making a single chapter seem too long. Its also reflective of the narrator, Caesar, who is constantly struggling between his past and his present, trying to find his footing.
This is a great book for older teen males and adults in their early 20’s, although I’m sure a few girls might appreciate this book, it is aimed mostly for men.Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same by Mattox Roesch Unbridled Books, 2009 ISBN 1932961874 317 pages
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