Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Today's read... The Broke Hearts by Matt Mendez

Today's read is another young adult fiction story which should hit the gut. It's the 2nd in the series, and nope, I didn't read the first. So, I'm hoping that doesn't prove to be an issue, since this one should circle around some pretty rough circumstances which happened in book one. I am in the mood for something deeper and grittier, and I hope this one delivers everything it promises. 

(Note: I'm going to have to go back and read book one because after reading this, I'm adding it to my possible favorites of the year list.)

Barely Missing Everything, #2
by Matt Mendez
Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary
240 pages

In this piercing follow up to Barely Missing Everything , JD and Danny, still reeling from the gutting death of their best friend by police gunfire, grapple with life-changing decisions and the kind of people they want to be, for Juan.

A year after losing their best friend, JD and Danny are still brokenhearted. JD’s impetuous decision to join the Air Force only makes him yearn for “before” more than ever. Danny, who’d rather paint murals than open a book and certainly never thought of himself as college material, makes the equally impulsive choice to do what Juan will never be able to and enrolls in a community college.

Danny’s father, The Sarge, is proud of him for the first time ever for living out Sarge’s own dream of being a first-generation college student, but Danny can’t shake the thought that it should be Juan, not him. And studying hasn’t gotten any easier for him despite his new academic goals. When Danny is on the verge of flunking out and JD gets notified of imminent deployment, the two are forced to confront their shared grief that led them to these paths. Can they learn to live lives that are their own in honor of Juan, rather than for him?

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON   /    B&N


The tale hits with surprising potency and leaves an impression long after the last page has been read.

Danny and JD battle with the loss of their best friend, each trying to continue life in their own way. Danny's college aspirations are proving to be more than a struggle, not due to a lack of talent but a fight against himself. JD, who has joined the Airforce, isn't coping any better, despite his determination to reach his goals. They both must learn to handle the past and find a way to push forward, but that's easier said than done.

I did not read the first novel in this series, but that proved not to be a problem. The author allows each character to gain footing in the first chapters and reveals just enough of the past for readers, like me, to catch on what has happened without regurgitating the information in ways which might bore those who did read book one. Instead, Danny and JD are presented as they are: attempting to start anew. The pain and emotions lure the reader in, bringing sympathy immediately. It pulls at the heartstrings, lets harsh reality hit, and doesn't forget to throw in needed shimmers of hope...but with enough struggles to wonder if that light can really shine.

It's the character arc, which makes this a read to get lost in. Both Danny and JD have a long way to go and a rough climb if they want to make it. It digs into the rawer side of humanity and the world, hitting home in more ways than one. Especially teens will see part of themselves reflected in the characters as both hit the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. It's a read to connect with, suffer with, and discover growth on the other side.

And here he is..

Like his characters, Matt Mendez grew up in central El Paso, Texas. He received an MFA from the University of Arizona and is the author of the short story collection Twitching Heart and young adult novels Barely Missing Everything and The Broke Hearts. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can visit him at MattMendez.com.

No comments: