Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish

by Pablo Cartaya

Biracial (Latinx/white) Marcus, 14, is not above intimidating kids with his size,... read more

Biracial (Latinx/white) Marcus, 14, is not above intimidating kids with his size, although he’d much rather protect them from Steven, a class bully, in one of his several moneymaking schemes to help out at home. When Marcus is suspended after punching Steven, who called his little brother Charlie the r-word, their mom decides a break is needed and arranges a five-day visit to extended family in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is where Marcus’s dad lives. Even though he abandoned their family not long after Charlie, who has Down syndrome, was born, Marcus is convinced his dad will want to see them. The trip is a captivating, enriching, eye-opening look at family and culture and heritage for Marcus. For once his mom is relaxed rather than stressed about work and money, and he sees a whole new, adventurous side of her; Charlie, too, holds surprises; and his relatives, spread out across the island, are warm and wonderful. Still, Marcus yearns to see his dad, sure he will have changed from the man who left into the man Marcus wants him to be. Terrific relationships and wonderfully realized characters ground this story in which Marcus realizes that while he can’t have everything he longs for, he is already surrounded by love. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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