Friday, November 20, 2009

What We’re Reading: Bait

Sixteen year old Diego McMann has problems. Big problems. He has been charged with assault for punching out another student at his high school. He’s not really sure why he hit Fabio Flores. Fabio just kept looking at him. That way. Until Diego couldn’t take it anymore and he suddenly hit him. Sometimes he just gets so angry. And now, after taking an anger management class, which didn’t work, he is facing a hearing to determine what will happen to him next.

Bait follows Diego McMann as he begins to realize why he is so angry and begins to discover what he can do to regain control of the emotions that flare up, and out of control, before he realizes what is happening.

Bait is Alex Sanchez’s latest, and most complex novel yet. Diego McMann, the book’s principal character, is well drawn and believable. He is both, and neither, a bully and a victim. He is also the product of a background with elements (absent father, single working mother, immigration) that will be very, very familiar to a lot of readers. In addition, Diego’s feelings and confusion sound genuine as the reader follows him through his struggle to reconcile, and confront, the events from his childhood that keep manifesting themselves in both his outbursts of rage at others, and the self-mutilation he inflicts on himself. Bait is a powerful and compelling novel about the effects of abuse and how they can be overcome.

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