Barely Missing Everything has a few bumps and bruises in the writing style and subject matter. Matt Mendez has a “this a not an easy read” story for several reasons. First, the points of view can be a little off putting, though they are usually from Juan’s and the subject is how the town Juan, his family, and friends lives in treats people with Mexican backgrounds.
Clichés and stereotypes come up often with what happens to the characters (Juan mother is a teenage mom, Juan’s friend, JD’s father has an affair, Juan’s grandfather heavily drinks, their landlady assumes the worse by Juan and his mother are Mexican, there is a racist coach). You are not to trust the police, even with a “brown face” and white people whitewash everything. Dealing with hard hitting issues, this novel shows you a heavy-handed, realistic reality of what teens from Juan’s world must deal with every day. It is interesting, but not necessarily “grabbing” for a second read. As the ending was mostly obvious, there were no real surprises.
The ending is a bit rushed and again, while realistic, it could have been handled most likely differently. But the message Mendez wanted meant it could only have ended that way. In some ways this book could have been longer and at the same time, shorter. There is some repetition of theme or story arcs. Perhaps having background information about the area of Texas the book is set or statistics about gangs, police brutality and other crimes in the area could have fleshed out things. I would really appreciate being able to speak to the author about this book, to understand where they were coming from.
I would not give this to a teen under 13 due to language, gang violence, and the casual use of drugs and alcohol (though I am sure they have seen worse on TV, movies, other books). And semi-spoiler: yes, there is a brutal death.
PS: (Title comes from a publisher description)