05 November 2009

And this time he doesn't tell me to say mercy.

It's hard to talk about We Were Here without giving everything away. The most beautiful parts are the most anticipated and the most terrifying and devestating and to give them away would be cruel.

After "it" happened, Miguel was sent to a group home and required to write about "it" and talk about "it"--but he refuses to deal with "it." Miguel bonds with Mong and Rondell, two boys from the group home with issues of their own, and the three of them escape, running for Mexico, running from home.

There are times in the book when I would notice something hinting heavily at "it," but de la Pena manages to effectively surprise even those of us who saw "it" coming with his choppy phrases like choppy breaths as Miguel pours honesty out of his chest and onto the pages of his journal.

This novel speaks less to me about race as a specific prejudice and more to me about judgement as a generality. On the first page we see Miguel's sentencing, and we automatically assume he's a terrible kid. We don't stop to consider the severity of his crime or the circumstances of his commiting it, but worst of all, we don't stop to consider that he is still a person.

Honestly, I would rather see this story in a poetic format--a lot of the build up is just frustrating, but the style and wording when Miguel decribes "it" evokes such sympathy. I think those emotions would be stronger if they hadn't been dampered by time.