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Kidd knows tragedy. He has a father who loves drugs more than his family, and a mother who seeks solace in alcohol. As a result, he finds himself at Horizons, a group home, where he meets Devon, a boy with a volatile personality and a death wish.

Kidd decides to run away, ends up working maintainance on the beaches of Cardiff, CA, and falls in love with the most beautiful and mysterious girl he's ever known, Olivia. Things seem to be looking up for Kidd until Devon knocks on his door determined to teach him a few lessons about life. Afraid that Devon will hurt Olivia in order to get to him, Kidd confronts his old friend, and one of them doesn't make it out alive.

This novel faces some very difficult issues such as abuse, racial identity, class, and mental illness. Although the reader recognizes certain nuances of de la Pena's writing, the voice is unique and the writing style is more fluid. Since it opens with a murder, readers are drawn into the plot the moment they open the book and find themselves turning page after page to find out what led up to the point that a young man's body was plunged over a cliff.   flag

 
 
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"And here's the thing: it's not even that your life changes because of what you *did*, I don't think...Nah, man, it's not even that. People change because they discover that this supposed line between being a good person and being a bad person doesn't actually exist. They realize that shit's straight make-believe." - Miguel

When Miguel gets sent to Juvi, he no longer cares about what happens to himself; after what he did, he doesn't even believe he deserves the luxury of life. Therefore, he decides to go through the motions of doing his time by writing in his court-ordered journal, and attending mandated counseling sessions with an ex-hippie-surfer, Jaden.

Then, one night, a fellow inmate, Mong, suggests that they run away to Mexico to get a fresh start. Miguel agrees to run, not because he wants to be free, but because he wants to escape his past. What he doesn't realize, however, is that he can't run from himself.

Matt de la Pena weaves a story of tragedy, friendship, and self-discovery using a group of unlikely characters; characters that society, for all intents and purposes, has written off. As they go on this journey, the reader learns that good lies within all of us, and sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. De la Pena does a great job of using humor and suspense to keep his reader on her toes - not to mention a few twists that leave her in utter shock.

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