Title: Ponga Boy
Author: Phil Lebherz & Philip Reed
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Epic Press LLC
Received: From author for review
Release Date: July 2009
A young boy grows up to be a young man with unbelievable soccer abilities. In his small Mexican town, a coach from an American college spots him and offers him a chance in a lifetime. Taking it, he sets out to find himself and discover the path soccer will lead him down.
This is a book about coming of age, cultures, staying true to one’s self, honesty, humility, and the future. It starts with Pichu at ten years old and quickly progresses until he is an older teenager. You get a good glimpse into his life in Los Barriles, Mexico and the people who made up his community. From there, the reader is given a glimpse into American college culture, including the interactions with new people and foreigners.
I felt that the writing style was more for middle grades, but the college scenes were more for older kids. There is nothing graphic or explicit, by any means, but sex comes up and is briefly discussed.
The characters were very realistic. The egos of the soccer players, the flirting of the girls, the racial prejudices, and other cultural aspects were very realistic and right on target. I couldn’t help but feel angry at the way some of the characters were treated.
What I loved the most about the story were the internal conflicts of Pichu. He is not perfect. He is extremely talented, but he still has a lot to learn and is willing to do so. Throughout the story is always himself and sticks close to his roots and believes. The story is one full of hope especially in young people as they step out into the world and become their own.
If you are looking for a multi-cultural, coming of age book that is not too long and a relatively easy read, this is one you should really check out.
Author of Deep Connections