When Dad Came Back

By . 4 CDs. 3:52 hrs. AudioGo. 2012. ISBN 978-1-935430-91-9. $49.95.
Gr 5–7—Four years ago, Gabe Mendoza's father drove away in the family car, leaving Gabe (now 13 years old) and his mother to fend for themselves in a run-down neighborhood in Fresno, California. Now, dirty, homeless, and ill, Gabe's father returns. At first, the teenager doesn't recognize the shabby stranger, but when he realizes that it's his father, he's angry and wants nothing to do with him. His mother feels the same way as they both recall his alcoholism and abuse. A recovering alcoholic, Gabe's dad makes several attempts to re-establish a relationship with his son. The story revolves around Gabe's coming to terms with his father's return and the conflicting feelings he experiences as he struggles to overcome anger and disappointment, and accept and forgive his father. In the midst of all of this, Gabe also has to negotiate the challenges of living in an often dangerous neighborhood where loud arguments, obscenities, fights, and gunshots can be heard at night. He tries to avoid troublemakers, gang members, neighborhood scam artists, and bullies looking for a fight. Sometimes, he has to fight. August Ross presents a poignant, thoughtful, and realistic portrayal of Gabe in Soto's touching story about an issue many listeners will relate to. While the relationship between Gabe and his father is not completely resolved at the end of the story, it does end on a hopeful note.—Mary Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

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