by Gary Soto
A sweetly humorous middle grade novel packed with action, basketball, and a dash of magical realism about friendship and family, first crushes, and belonging, from acclaimed author Gary Soto.
Thirteen-year-old Jordan Mendoza has a huge crush on his classmate, Sierra, but he’s never going to win her affections if he stays a C student and keeps embarrassing himself on the basketball court. And it doesn’t help that his best friend, Antonio, likes to tease him about it all a little too much.
But when Jordan dives into the waters of a dangerous irrigation canal to save a drowning puppy, he’s suddenly got even more on his mind than kissing Sierra and making the starting team. Can he nurse the abandoned puppy back to health (and will his parents let him keep her)? Who threw her into the canal—and is it possible that there are more puppies needing rescue? And why are the cops suddenly at Jordan’s door, looking for him?
There’s something for every reader in this story’s mix of humor, sports, themes of thrilling independence, subtle strands of magical realism, and timely social commentary, all held together by a sweet and satisfying emotional core.