Born in Spanish Harlem in 1972 to a teenage Puerto Rican mother and a Black father, Javier Soto is a blemish on the face of American society. After a suspicious fire allegedly set by his mother, while his father serves time in prison, Javier and his sisters are removed from their home into foster care. This true story of Javier Soto's life takes you on the soul-stirring journey of a young boy in the custody of a brutal world.
Beginning at the Catholic Home Bureau, Javier's tale depicts the evolution of an innocent child into an enraged teenager as he battles his way through the perils of abuse, starvation, and neglect. Like thousands of American children who are driven into the foster care network Javier and his siblings are repeatedly shuffled through numerous foster homes, each one less welcoming than the last. Following eventual separation from his sisters, Javier is left to continue his crusade of survival alone.
An indelible account that tells of a boy's anguish, self-loathing and an unsatisfied yearning for love that is the birthright of every child. With such little grounds for hope, how far will Javier go?
Reviewed by: CeliaRating: 3.5 stars
Review: This is the harrowing story of a boy named Javier. His troubles first began in the womb, conceived by a mentally unstable Hispanic woman and a convicted Black man. By the age of 19, Javier’s mother had had enough of birthing “bastard” children and tried to kill them by setting the house on fire, which prompted Javier’s induction into the foster care system.
From that point forward, Javier experiences life as a bastard with abuse and neglect. Even in the face of such hardships, he holds a glimmer of hope for that “empty hero” to rescue him, whether it be his sperm donor or some guy named Jesus. Still, through his keen perception, he could not deny the evils of the heartless world he was thrown into. It was then that he learned to “survive at all costs.” The atrocities were just heart-wrenching and crude. It was just a never-ending battle—a rather daunting battle. Sometimes it was just too hard to take. Story had some considerable lag and grammatical errors, and, at times, became too vulgar for my taste; but, still, its endearing and infantile poignancy remains throughout.
Raw and gritty, Damien Black crafted a novel full of struggle and emotional turmoil. The author managed to infuse this simple grace into a child’s remedial perspective. And the illustrations, which were full of innocence and joy, were an exquisite contrast to the hardship of the story. Like the Yin Yang symbol, the white purity of Javier was juxtaposed with the dark corruption of society, which gave a suitable balance to the story.