Diamond Park
by Diederich, Phillippe

When four Mexican-American teenagers from Houston travel to Diamond Park to buy a 1959 Chevy Impala from Magańna's godfather, something goes very wrong, and one of them, Susi, ends up arrested for murder; convinced that the real killer is a drug trafficker called Anaconda, Flaco and Magańna head to Mexico hunting for him to clear Susi's name-but in the process of kidnapping Anaconda Flaco discovers how little he understands about what really happened in Diamond Park.

Phillippe Diederich is a freelance photographer and writer. He is the son of Haitian exiles, and he grew up in Mexico City. He is a recipient of the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the author of two previous novels, including the acclaimed novel Playing for the Devil's Fire, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick. He lives in Florida.

*Starred Review* The author of Playing for the Devil's Fire (2016) brings readers a new gritty coming-of-age story rooted in that most universal of teenage dreams-getting a car. When Maga˝a tells Flaco and Tiny that they're all skipping school to pick up his dream car, a 1959 Chevy Impala convertible, from his godfather Rayo's house in Diamond Park, the boys don't put up much of a fight. What should have been a simple trip goes sideways when Flaco's crush, Susi, invites herself along. While Susi chooses to stay at the house with Rayo and his thug-like associate, Anaconda, the boys leave to get the Impala from a nearby farm. Upon their return, the boys are confronted with an awful scene: yellow crime-scene tape, Susi covered in blood, Rayo's body being loaded into an ambulance, and no sign of Anaconda. What ensues is Maga˝a and Flaco's desperate (and idiotic) plan to clear Susi's name by tracking down Anaconda in Mexico. Diederich paints a complex picture of teenage life in a world that regards one with suspicion for having brown skin-Susi, Maga˝a, and Flaco are all Mexican American and Tiny is an undocumented Mexican. He broaches heavy subjects with a light touch, creating a realistic backdrop for the tense action that unfolds. Flaco's feelings of guilt and responsibility ring true, as does his struggle to decide what to do with his life after graduation-please his hardworking mother or follow his dreams? This novel packs a punch while managing to wrest tough situations into the realm of hope. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Two teenagers drive from Texas to Mexico to find a murderer and clear their friend's name. High school senior Flaco is frustrated with his family and still mourning the death of his cousin, who joined the Army and was killed by the Taliban. Skipping school to help buddy Maga├▒a buy a 1959 Chevy Impala convertible doesn't seem like a big deal. Their friend Tiny joins them, and Flaco is excited when longtime crush Susi asks to tag along too-but things go horribly awry. During the transaction over the car, the boys are separated from Susi, a man ends up dead, and Susi is accused of murder. The Mexican American teens experience racism in the criminal justice and immigration systems when it becomes clear that no one-not the police or even her lawyer-will help Susi and when Tiny, who is undocumented, must disappear along with his entire family to avoid arrest and deportation. Flaco and Maga├▒a assume the real killer is Anaconda, a known murderer and coyote. The two boys set out across the border on a desperate mission to kidnap Anaconda, bring him to justice in the United States, and free Susi from jail. A dangerous quest ensues that will keep pages turning. The teens are aided by strokes of luck that sometimes stretch credulity but make for fast-paced, heart-wrenching reading. Dark, compelling, and surprisingly hopeful. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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