Sunday, May 27, 2012

Border Town: Crossing the Line, by Malin Alegria (fiction) - sisters, competition, the truth

book cover of Border Town Crossing the Line by Malin Alegria published by Point Books
High school cliques.
Social pecking-order.
You've got to know where you stand
and when crossing the line is the right thing to do.

Big sister Fabi is sure she has all the answers that ninth-grader Alexis will need to succeed in their high school in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. But pretty little Alexis isn't satisfied with being a quiet Mexican-American good-girl and decides to run with the popular crowd, setting her sights on football star Dex, despite his bad-boy reputation in town.

Alexis and Fabi's extended family ranges from arguing grandmothers who stay on opposite sides of the Garza restaurant to baby brother Rafael (also known as Baby Oops) to their many, many uncles and aunts and cousins.

Like many border towns, questions of immigration and fair work, legal enterprises and criminal activities "from away" are the unspoken undercurrents that disturb the balance of life in Dos Rios and finally demand answers.

This is the first book in the Border Town series, with the Garza family's next adventures coming soon: Quince Clash (#2) will be published July 1, 2012, with Falling Too Fast (#3) and No Second Chances (#4) following at three-month intervals. Fans of the popular Bluford High series should jump right into Border Town.

Book info: Border Town: Crossing the Line (Border Town #1) / Malin Alegria. Point (Scholastic), 2012.  [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation:
Fabi is excited that her little sister will attend her high school this year, but worries when Alexis won’t listen to the rules that keep them safe in their Texas border town. Crossing the line into the wrong crowd is more than a social miscue – it could endanger their family’s business.

There have always been tensions between long-time residents of Dos Rios and newcomers, between Mexican-Americans and whites. When it comes to the patrons of her family’s Mexican restaurant, Fabiola Garza knows who to joke with and who to be quiet around. Her cousin Santiago can sweet-talk anyone, especially their two grandmothers, one whose answer to every question is a rosary, the other who just adores conjunto musician Little Rafa.

Alexis starts seeing bad-boy Dex, deciding that being popular is more important than attending the voice lessons that her parents work so hard to pay for. Too bad that Fabi’s best friend moved away – she needs Georgia Rae’s advice more often than just weekends.

Chuy is attacked in the restaurant one night, but the waiter can’t identify the robbers. Luckily new student Milo is with Fabi when she discovers him. As other immigrants are robbed of their earnings on payday, the townspeople get worried. Are the drug cartels coming across the border now or is anti-Mexican sentiment in Dos Rios turning violent?

When Santiago starts flashing cash around town, the police decide he’s responsible for the thefts. Fabi overhears Dex bragging to his football buddies about mugging immigrants and asks Georgia Rae and Milo to help her uncover the truth.

Can Fabi convince Alexis to stay away from the football star for good? Can she keep her cousin out of prison? Can she convince anyone that the judge’s grandson Dex is a thief?

First in the fast-moving Border Town series, Crossing the Line is followed by Quince Clash (book 2), Falling Too Fast (book 3), and No Second Chances (book 4).  (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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