Saturday, September 12, 2009

Call Me Henri by Lorraine Lopez

Enrique speaks English only as a second language but he is pretty good and would like to take French classes rather than English. Its a beautiful language. His counselor says that won't be allowed but he is sent to the French teacher to join the after school French Club. This teacher also directs the school play every year. It is always West Side Story. Enrique can join French Club if he also acts in the play. That's school life. Home life, he lives in a tough neighborhood with his mother, abusive step father and triplet brothers who he adores and takes good care of. He is also friends with a neighborhood boy who has had a hard time in school and so gets in trouble and suspended frequently. This boy gets involved with a gang while out of school and never looks back. Still he has been a good friend to Enrique. So members of a rival gang catch the boy on their territory and shoot him. Enrique witnesses this and now is in danger himself. And his stepfather starts drinking and beats him up. His mom tries to protect him by taking him to a relative to stay. Teachers at school understand all that is happening to this likable, smart, hard working kid and hatch a plan to send him to Canada to as an exchange student to study French and get away for long enough for things to settle down. There's a side plot about a beloved mutt as well. This story is easy to read, It is idealistic with a very happy ending that most kids in Enrique's situation would never believe and isn't likely to happen in real life in any case. I enjoyed but I do not know who I would recommend it to. JDW 9/9/09

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