When two gun-toting hoodlums tell the fourteen-year-old narrator of René Saldaña’s story, “The Right Size,” to kiss the floor, he doesn’t think twice. And his dad and younger brother drop to the floor just as quickly. “This guy Jimmy probably thinks Dad is the greatest threat among the three of us, but he’s dead wrong. Dad couldn’t hurt a bug,” the boy thinks. In the ensuing twenty minutes, he learns that his dad isn’t as weak as he thought, and in fact, his dad is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, even if it means killing someone.
The teens featured in these stories deal with situations typical to all young adults, including attraction to the opposite sex—or to the same sex, in one story—and first sexual encounters, problems with family and friends, academic and personal aspirations.
But they also deal with every kind of thrilling situation imaginable, from missing girls to kidnappings and dismembered bodies. A young girl finds herself living with her “family,” though she has no memory of them or who they claim she is. A geek at a prestigious public high school finds himself working with his very attractive arch-rival to solve the mystery of a severed, bloody arm that appears inexplicably in his locker. And Mike’s life sucks when his parents split up, but it gets worse when his best friend is abducted by a thug shot by Mike’s dad, a police officer. There’s something for everyone here, with aliens, ghosts and even an Aztec god making appearances in these stories.
Set in schools and communities from New York City to Venice Beach, California, the protagonists reflect the breadth and diversity of the Latino authors included in this innovative collection. Published authors such as Mario Acevedo, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Diana López and Sergio Troncoso appear alongside less well-known authors who deserve more recognition. With an introduction by young adult literature expert Dr. James Blasingame of Arizona State University, this collection is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the last page is turned.
To see the table of contents for this book, click here.
To download a complete teacher's guide for this book, click here.
Praise for You Don't Have a Clue:
"A police whisperer, a girl with no memory, a boy who hears voices in his head—welcome to this generous collection of 18 mystery stories written by and featuring Latino authors and characters. Notable for the diversity of their vividly realized settings that range from Southern California’s Venice Beach to the mean streets of the Bronx, and for the authenticity of their Spanish-studded language (a glossary is included), the stories range from noirish to whimsical but all have in common teenage protagonists who find themselves in danger and often desperate trouble. As both a policewoman and a poet, Cortez brings unusual qualifications to her role as editor and presents stories that are notable both for their authenticity and for their language. This excellent collection—enriched by a thoughtful foreward by YA scholar James Blasingame—gives faces to Latino teens in a most original way."
—Booklist Starred Review
"Cortez complements her adult level Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (2009) with 18 new tales (from a largely different set of Latino/Latina authors) featuring teen characters and concerns. Readers with a taste for the gruesome will be delighted by Xander’s discovery of a freshly severed human arm in his school locker in R. Narvaez’s hilarious and memorable “Hating Holly Hernandez” or the bloody, eye-gouging battle with alien fugitives in Mario Acevedo’s leadoff “No Soy Loco.” Along with scary tales of murder, attempted murder and kidnapping, less violent crimes solved by young detectives include stolen auto parts, santitos (religious figurines) and costume jewelry—along with an encounter with possible ghosts and a vision of the enraged Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui rising up over Venice Beach in Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s “The Tattoo.” Several authors explore moral or ethical gray areas. Sergio Troncoso contributes an anti-mystery in which a teenager simply shrugs off a near-fatal allergic reaction and moves on, and, in another ingenious twist on conventions, Carlos Hernandez crafts a smooth-talking Bronx teen who cements his reputation as a “cop-whisperer” when a face-blind friend’s girlfriend supposedly disappears after posting a suicide note. Only one—a too-sketchy short-short from Daniel A. Olivas—really misses the mark. Overall, a consistent, well crafted collection."
“The mix of realistic and fantastic mysteries guarantees broad reader appeal for this impressive collection."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Contributor Manuel Ramos was selected as an Arte Público Press "Author of the Month" on KUHF Houston Public Radio's website. His interview with radio host Eric Ladau can be found here.
To hear an interview with Sarah Cortez on constructing a mystery by high school students at the Tucson Festival of Books, click here.
To view sample pages of the book, click here.