Falling Short

HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 511p. $21.99. ISBN 9780063219885.
Gr 4-7–Best friends Isaac Castillo and Marco Honeyman have been bouncing back and forth between each other’s houses for years. Isaac is Latinx, a basketball star who struggles in the classroom, whose parents’ ongoing divorce is exacerbated by his father’s alcoholism. Marco, described as “half-Jewish, half-Mexican,” is an academic standout, although “even the short kids tower over [him]”; he longs for a closer relationship with his absent dad. Middle school, of course, will be a game changer for them all. With Spanish spoken throughout, the narrative’s fluency is enhanced by the fact that Timothy Andrés Pabon as Isaac and Gary Tiedemann as Marco are bilingual. Pabon’s voice is a bit more controlled, as if trying to keep Isaac’s struggles and hopes from bursting; Tiedemann reads with his signature slight lilt, appropriately imbuing Marco with more open emotions.
VERDICT Pura Belpré Award–winning Cisneros’s sophomore effort gets undoubtedly boosted from this dynamic veteran narrator duo.

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