Book Review - Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado

Thursday May 13, 2010

Secret Saturdays
by Torrey Maldanado
April 15, 2010
Putnam Juvenile
Goodreads Summary: A poignant look into one a fatherless twelve-year-old’s struggles with friendship and trust.

Sean is Justin’s best friend, at least Justin thought he was. But lately Sean has been acting differently. Sean’s been telling lies, getting into trouble at school, and hanging out with a tougher crowd, even getting into fights. This isn’t like Sean at all. When Justin finally discovers that Sean’s been secretly going to visit his father in prison and is dealing with the shame of that, Justin wants to do something to help before his friend spirals further out of control. But what if confronting Sean means Justin loses his very best friend? In the end, he decides it doesn’t matter; he’s got to man up.

Set in one of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods, Secret Saturdays is an affecting read highlighted by strong characters and an authentic, heartening voice. 

Review: As a teacher-librarian in a middle school, I see students come in as sixth graders and watch them make critical and sometimes life-altering choices as they progress through seventh and eighth grade. These seem to be the years where kids start making choices regarding the people they want to be based on a multitude of factors and choices.
In Secret Saturdays sixth grader Justin observes his best friend Sean changing before his very eyes. They've always been close and Sean has always been the best disser around, choosing to fight with words instead of fists. Lately Justin has noticed that Sean's disses have become more vicious and he has even begun to start physical fights in school...something he has never done before.

In addition to his attitude change at school, Sean starts missing his regular overnight stays with Justin and their other friend Kyle, at this point Justin is determined to figure out what is going on. When he finally spies Sean and his mom leaving one Saturday morning before the sun is even up he turns to Kyle and another friend Vanessa to get to the bottom of this mystery. What they find out is a secret that Sean has been keeping for along time.

I really loved this book and I will be encouraging teachers and librarians everywhere to read it and keep it in their classrooms and libraries. Finding good reads for boys is something I am always keeping an eye out for and this book definitely fits in that category. 

Although set in a tough neighborhood in New York, the topics of poverty, fatherless children, friends and tough choices are topics that kids everywhere can relate to. The situation of boys insecure about communicating their feelings with other boys without seeming "gay" is practically epidemic and compounding that with the fact they sometimes live without positive male role models is a recipe for disaster. One of Justin's biggest struggles in this story is getting the nerve to just talk to his best friend Sean about what is going on...but the act of simply being sensitive and empathetic to his friends needs has him so overwhelmingly self-conscious about coming across as gay and "un-manly" that he feels helpless and angry. The question is, can Justin figure out what to do before he and Sean take different paths that will change their friendship forever?

A must read! Get it now! 

Appropriate for ages 12 and up.


DuEwa Frazier said...

Dear Library Lounge Lizard and Friends:

YA Author, Torrey Maldonado will be interviewed on Rhymes, Views & News Talk Radio hosted by DuEwa Frazier on Sunday, April 15, 2010 at 5pm EST.

Torrey Maldonado will discuss his writing life, the success of SECRET SATURDAYS and the powerful themes within the book! Tune in to listen LIVE and call in at (646) 716-9474 with your questions for Torrey.

VISIT for more information on this and other author interviews

Thanks for your support!

DuEwa Frazier, Host & Producer