The Boy Kings of Texas
Domingo Martinez was born in the early 1970s in Brownsville, Tex., on the Mexican border. His youth was marked by violence and family drama; he grew up wanting only to escape, but unsure how to do so. The Boy Kings of Texas, a National Book Award nominee, introduces readers to Martinez's philandering father; his work-obsessed grandmother; his older sisters; his generally forgotten mother; and centrally, his older brother, Dan. Martinez describes in glaring, painful detail his drug-dealing friends and family--one time, he bought pot from two local thugs who turned out to be his uncles but who didn't recognize him through their drug-induced haze--and his gradual, excruciating withdrawal from Texas and the life he'd always known.
Martinez eventually ends up in Seattle, making agonizing attempts at starting fresh, handicapped by a childhood whose dominant lesson was machismo at the expense of all else. While a final, happier ending is hinted at, Martinez's story is heartrending and uncomfortable, but he maintains a surprising sense of humor that keeps the reader rooting for him. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at Pages of Julia