Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Brother Torres by Coert Vorhees

c. 2008 Hyperion

Frankie is having a typical freshman year in New Mexico...well, almost a typical year. He’s lived in the small town of Borges all of his life where lines are drawn, both social and racial. He and his parents work hard at their family-owned restaurant, Los Torres, in order to compete with the large Tortilla Emporium. He hangs out with Zach, the crazy "guero" with one eye who loves to blow things up and Begay, a "rez," who completes the crowd.
Frankie likes to hang out with his friends, but it’s his older brother, Steve who fascinates him. Steve is the star soccer player that everyone loves, from the ninth graders to seniors. But Frankie begins to notice subtle changes in his brother, from the people he hangs out with to the girls he dates. No longer is Cheo part of Steve’s’s now Flaco, a known cholo and Steve's chola girl, Carmenita. Steve also starts hanging out late at night, and Frankie has no idea what he’s up to.
Life takes a dramatic turn when Dalton, the rich preppy guy, decides to turn his dislike for Steve into a three on one fight with Frankie and Dalton comes at him again, this time during Frankie’s first date with his crush, Rebecca. Now, Frankie sees the power of the cholos and the protection they can give. All thanks to Steve, his big brother.
Tension between Dalton and Frankie never let up and things blow up the night of prom. Steve and Dalton start a deadly fight, but when Frankie sees what could be Steve’s downfall of cholo protection decides it’s time for him to step up. And the results are painful to both brothers.
Coert Vorhees writes with honesty and clarity about the boundaries and relationships of Mexican-American teens’ lives. The characters are rich in personality, the language is authentic, and the situations these boys find themselves in to protect their family and their own honor is real. A must have for any school that has a Latino population.

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