Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Pancho has a goal. It is a secret goal. It is something that he’s unlikely to share with any of the other kids who happen to live at the orphanage he’s just moved to. His sister has just died, the police ruled it accidental – but Pancho knows otherwise. D.Q. already lives at the orphanage and has since he was around nine. He’s 17 now and has cancer. It doesn’t look too good for him. Pancho is given the job of looking after D.Q. and gets to accompany him on a medical trip to Albuquerque. This trip is essentially a pilgrimage. D.Q. and Pancho both hope to find their deepest desires there. For D.Q., a girl, for Pancho, his sister’s murderer.

There were a few coincidences that were perhaps a little too convenient. D.Q.’s medical treatment is in Albuquerque and it just so happens that Pancho’s murderer lives there too. And wouldn’t Pancho like to come along? D.Q. might be a little too deep for a seventeen year old boy – but he has had an unusual life, so perhaps not.

All in all, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this story. It is all about love and the effect people can have on one another. It is about anger and redemption and choosing to live a life worth living every day. It is about friendship and choosing the right way, not the easy way. It shows how someone can be damaged, but that being damaged does not determine your destiny. It shows how when people open themselves up, anything is possible. It explores the value of life, while also respecting a person’s right to choose how and when and even if they receive medical treatment. The language is gorgeous. The characters nuanced. It is simply wonderful.

This is the first book I’ve read this year that I really think has a shot at the Printz.

Book Source: Publisher Review Copy


joanna said...

Okay, I really want to read it now. And it looks like the same person did the cover. (Me like.)

DogEar said...

I really tried to get through this book, but I just couldn't. For whatever reason, the story didn't draw me in. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a character driven book... Marcelo, on the other hand, was a page-turner.

Patti said...

That is really funny, because I was the exact opposite. I could not make myself read Marcelo.

missprint said...

I'm glad I read about this one here before seeing it in passing because the plot sounds really interesting but I would have totally passed if I was only going by the title. So, thanks!

Patti said...

Definitely give it a try. I've seen some negative reviews, but on the whole most seem to really be liking it.

Kelly said...

I loved Marcelo, I need to keep an eye out for this one too!