Chasing Pacquiao

Viking. May 2023. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593526736.
Gr 7 Up–There’s a fight every day at “War Zone High,” where homophobic slurs (both in English and Tagalog) and toxic masculinity run rampant. It’s no wonder Bobby keeps his homeschooled boyfriend secret. But, when Bobby is outed by a classmate’s hate speech, he decides to own it rather than deny it. The consequence: Bobby is beaten up and his bike gets stolen. Cue the “Bobby Agbayani Epic Makeover Plan” and getting a job at the boxing gym. As Bobby trains like his hero, Filipino boxer Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, he finally stands up for himself—and his loved ones. Pulido’s heartfelt debut is wonderfully steeped in geek and Filipino culture. Endearing tanaga text messages, comic book references, and calling chapters “rounds” show a keen attention to detail.
VERDICT An underdog story with a powerful message about putting heroes on a pedestal, this is for all teen collections.

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