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The Closest I've Come

Review

The Closest I've Come

THE CLOSEST I’VE COME by Fred Aceves is a unique book.  I’ve been reading young adult literature for as long as I became a reader and --- I think a lot of people would agree with me here --- most of the time it’s in the female’s point of view.  At this point, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was in a male’s perspective. 

The male perspective is just an eye grabber. THE CLOSEST I’VE COME follows Marcos Rivas’ search for love. Right from the beginning, we are introduced to an innocent and sweet character in a horrible situation. With an emotionally distant mother, who sits back and watches her boyfriend physically abuse Marcos, and an overwhelming sense of solitude, Marcos is just searching for someone to believe in him. The closest thing he has to that is his group of friends from the same neighborhood, the Maesta.

"If you’re looking for a coming-of-age story...a diverse read...amazing character development and intriguing storytelling, this is for you. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, Fred Aceves does and he does not disappoint."

It was so interesting to read Marcos’ conflicting relation to his “ghetto” neighborhood. While he acquainted himself with those of the same origin as he, he wanted nothing more than to escape that lifestyle. It’s a recurring conflict where he feels the most understood and connected to those who grew up and look the same as he, yet we see him struggle to disassociate himself with the Maesta. At first, Marcos isn’t able to separate where he is from and who he wants to be. Reading from his perspective allowed me to understand his struggle with his identity. Oftentimes it even made sense. Marcos’ struggle is one I heavily identified with, whether it’s because I’m a teenager or because I’m a first generation high-school graduate, the internal conflict with people’s low expectations has never been so heavily highlighted in any book I have ever read. How does someone succeed if it seems as though the world expects them to fail?

It’s funny because no matter how open-minded people seem to be, unfortunately, there are still some stereotypes we fall back on --- whether consciously or not. Marcos isn’t a “don’t judge a book by its cover” example, his “cover” being baggy jeans and too big shirts. No, Marcos is a victim of unfortunate stereotypes, it shouldn’t matter where he lives, who he’s associated with, or the type of clothes he wears. Except it does, and he lets other’s perspectives of him affect his self-worth. 

What I found most interesting about Marcos was how insecure he was of himself, yet how humble and honest his actions were. He saw his straight A friend fall into drug dealing and saw him get the things he couldn’t even dream of getting, yet he still attempted to get money through sweeping parking lots. 

Throughout his journey, there was nothing I wanted more than to reach in and yell “hey, I get it! You’re not alone!” Alas, I couldn’t and instead, I got to be immersed in the story of a wonderfully crafted character. If you’re looking for a coming-of-age story, this is for you. If you’re looking for a diverse read, this is for you. If you’re looking for amazing character development and intriguing storytelling, this is for you. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, Fred Aceves does and he does not disappoint.

Reviewed by Sabina Z., Teen Board Member on January 10, 2018

The Closest I've Come
by Fred Aceves