A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
For readers with a serious interest in contemporary history, Wolf Boys offers an abundance of information on everything from Mexican political parties to NAFTA and the workings of the DEA.
While often overwhelmingly difficult, a choice can be made to take your life in a direction away from drugs and crime.
Positive Role Models
Laredo police detective Robert Garcia and federal prosecutor Angel Moreno (both children of Mexican immigrants) are dedicated, resourceful and determined to make a difference in a community many consider a hopeless cause.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is pervasive and inescapable in Wolf Boys, and readers won't be able to keep track of the body count. People are shot, stabbed, kidnapped, tortured, even fed alive to tigers. Women and children beaten and sometimes killed. People are brutally murdered for revenge or simply as part of doing business. The killers, both adults and teenagers, go about their grisly work in an almost casual manner. Murder for them is no big deal.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
While nothing sexual is graphically described, cartel members "vacation" at brothels and Gabriel begins his relationship with Christina when she's only 15.
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A few instances of "f--k" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of brand names of everything from beer to retail stores is a constant. Cartel member dress in Versace and Valentino and drive Mercedes and BMWs. Gabriel is a fan of Tupac Shakur.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke, drink, deal drugs, and use drugs. The neighborhoods of Laredo (at the time the book takes place) are filled with families whose livelihoods depend on a drug-dealing family member. Some of the young killers (including Gabriel) use a combination of tranquilizers and Red Bull.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug Cartel is the true story of two boys from Laredo, Texas, who became assassins for a powerful and vicious gang of drug smugglers and the Mexican-American police detective determined to catch them. This is a book for very mature readers, as the violence is constant, brutal, and committed by characters feeling no remorse for their actions. People are shot, stabbed, kidnapped, tortured, even fed alive to tigers. Women and children are beaten and sometimes killed. Author Dan Slater, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, offers a serious and extremely detailed account of the political, economic, and social complexities of the region that may overwhelm many readers.
Is It Any Good?
A violent, harrowing, and shocking true story that reads like a thriller and powerfully brings home the catastrophic cost of a losing war on drugs. Wolf Boys offers a vivid and sobering look at life for young men living in poverty along the Texas-Mexico border. Young men who see no part for themselves in the American Dream and are hard-pressed to resist the lure of money and power offered by working for the cartels.
While author Dan Slater has done a masterful job of research, the dozens of characters and amount of detail involved in the telling of the story could be a challenge for teens not accustomed to reading serious adult nonfiction. Parents may want to vet it first before passing it onto a teen.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.