Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand-dollar person or a hundred-dollar person -- even a ten-, five-, or one-dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies.
Fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez wants to be more than just a penny. He wants to be a vato firme, the kind of guy people respect. But that's not easy when your father is abusive, your brother can t hold a job, and your mother scrubs the house as if she can wash her troubles away.
In Manny's neighborhood, the way to get respect is to be in a gang. But Manny's not sure that joining a gang is the solution. Because, after all, it's his life -- and he wants to be the one to decide what happens to it.
About the Author
Martinez attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University. He was awarded the 1996 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.