A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers get a glimpse into the world of struggles that members of a poor Mexican American community endure. The author gives a voice to a subject that is rarely written about: young Latinx men growing up in a community where prejudice and racism permeate daily life, and the threat of violence is common.
Being a good friend means being honest no matter what, and supporting each other. Even in most difficult and bleakest of moments, you and your friend have each other to turn to. A person can overcome adversity by going back to school to pursue a better life.
Positive Role Models
JD feels like there's no way out of his situation, feels like giving up on everything until one day, after a big blowout with his sister, he walks into Air Force recruitment office and meets Technical Sergeant Bullard, a recruiter who seems larger-than-life and has a positive, can-do attitude. Sergeant Bullard gives him advice, offers a career option in the military, opening up opportunity for JD to have a positive outcome. Fabi is trying her best to care and provide for her son.
Violence & Scariness
JD and Juan are threatened at gunpoint by a local gang more than once. Juan's mother, Fabi, is slapped in the face by her boyfriend. There's a violent fight between the two characters where they kick and punch each other to point of becoming bloodied. JD crashes his car into a tree after drinking. In an incident of police brutality, Juan is beaten, ends up in jail. A police officer kills someone.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fabi makes sexual references about her current boyfriend.
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Strong language in English and Spanish, including "motherf----r," "bitch," "a--hole," "cabrón" "pendejo." Racist comments by police officers; one says after a character is shot, "He's probably an illegal."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several characters, including JD and Juan, regularly drink beer and on one or two occasions smoke weed. One of Juan's family members is an alcoholic.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Barely Missing Everything, by Matt Mendez, is the story of two Mexican American high school buddies and a single mother from El Paso, Texas, living in a low-income community where prejudice and racism abounds. The book sheds light on how brown lives struggle and what they must endure to survive. The telling of the story varies from an omniscient narrator to the three main characters themselves. Juan places his hopes on a basketball scholarship as his ticket to getting out of his situation. JD wants to become a filmmaker and documents his life any moment he can. Single mom Fabi, who had Juan when she was just 16, is caught in a situation she's not ready for. The novel takes the reader on a bumpy and often heart-wrenching ride, as readers see the consequences of choices the characters make, including situations they unwittingly put themselves in. Violence includes Fabi's boyfriend hitting her, a physical fight between two characters, a boy crashing his car into a tree, a boy beaten by police, and a character and someone killed by a police officer. Teens regularly drink beer and on one or two occasions smoke weed. One of Juan's adult family members is an alcoholic.There's frequent strong language in English and Spanish, including "motherf----r," "bitch," "a--hole," "cabrón," and "pendejo." Police officers make racist comments; after a character is shot, one says, "He's probably an illegal."
Is It Any Good?
This is a compelling and eye-opening story about race, economic and social inequality, and preconceived ideas about a particular group of people. Author Matt Mendez sheds light on the struggles of brown people and what people in Latinx communities constantly endure but rarely talk about. Barely Missing Everything can be hard to read at times because of the strong language, violence, and raw depictions of what the boys go through because of who they are and where they come from.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books with Latino Characters
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