In this piercing follow up to Barely Missing Everything, JD and Danny, still reeling from the gutting death of their best friend by police gunfire, grapple with life-changing decisions and the kind of people they want to be, for Juan.
A year after losing their best friend, JD and Danny are still brokenhearted. JD’s impetuous decision to join the Air Force only makes him yearn for “before” more than ever. Danny, who’d rather paint murals than open a book and certainly never thought of himself as college material, makes the equally impulsive choice to do what Juan will never be able to and enrolls in a community college.
Danny’s father, The Sarge, is proud of him for the first time ever for living out Sarge’s own dream of being a first-generation college student, but Danny can’t shake the thought that it should be Juan, not him. And studying hasn’t gotten any easier for him despite his new academic goals. When Danny is on the verge of flunking out and JD gets notified of imminent deployment, the two are forced to confront their shared grief that led them to these paths. Can they learn to live lives that are their own in honor of Juan, rather than for him?
About the Author
Like his characters, Matt Mendez grew up in central El Paso, Texas. He received an MFA from the University of Arizona and is the author of the short story collection Twitching Heart and young adult novels Barely Missing Everything and The Broke Hearts. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can visit him at MattMendez.com.
In this follow-up to Mendez’s Barely Missing Everything (BCCB 04/19), Juan’s best friends Danny and JD deal with their grief in the wake of Juan’s highly publicized police-involved killing. Danny puts in minimal effort in his University of El Paso art classes despite his recognizable talents and first-generation status, having followed Juan’s dream of attending community college. JD, meanwhile, enlists in the military as a result of the fear and grief associated with seeing his friend’s death firsthand. As deployment approaches, he tries to balance family and the military life that his family never wanted for him. Mendez’s strong narrative and distinct, picturesque writing are both reflected in the artistic aspirations of his protagonists: JD aspires to make movies when he returns from the air force, and his affinity for screenplays is as potent as Daniel’s artistic interest in traditional Mexican and Southwestern aesthetics influences. The two young men aren’t as close as they once were, but they are effectively presented in parallel as Mendez explores masculinity, mourning, and Mexican-American identity with emotional depth that readers will find moving and heartbreaking. WJ — The Bulletin