Monday, May 30, 2011

SECRET SATURDAYS by Torrey Maldonado

Friendship can be tricky.  BFF has certain conditions that it sometimes takes a lifetime to understand.  Being there for a friend seems simple - until it's not.

Justin and Sean have a lot in common.  Both are half Black and half Puerto Rican.  Both are being raised by single mothers intent on raising good, upstanding sons.  Both are good students and behave in school.  However, all that is beginning to change.

Justin knows that Sean is an expert at dissing.  Sean's mother has always said disputes should be handled with words not fists.  Recently, Sean's words have become vicious and are handing out hurts that sting as much as punches.  Sean's taunts are aimed at kids without fathers or at those with deadbeat dads.  This gives him plenty of targets, but Justin wonders about the fact that Sean's own dad is absent from his life. 

When Justin and another buddy Kyle witness Sean and his mother leaving the housing project in the wee hours of the morning, they feel a bit betrayed since Sean was supposed to have been with them for the evening.  When the two friends confront Sean, he boldly lies. 

That lie is just the beginning.  What follows is even more shocking for those who care about Sean.  His behavior is changing dramatically.  His taunts have turned to fist fights resulting in detentions and even a suspension from school.  His grades tank as the mysterious trips with his mother continue.  Justin doesn't understand how best friends who previously trusted each other with everything can have secrets like the ones Sean is keeping.

Debut author Torrey Maldonado takes on teens and teen relationships in the inner city.  He has firsthand knowledge of just how tough it is to grow up surrounded by negative influences and how hard it is to resist temptation when there is no male role model to look up to.  Justin and Sean and their other friends realistically depict the difficult times friends can face when it comes to family and secrets meant to save face or protect.  Maldonado presents his story so readers can feel both sides of the situation as they listen to Justin's narration and as they try to puzzle out Sean's secret life.

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