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Book Review: Falling Short

Title: Falling Short

Author:Ernesto Cisneros

Genre: Juvenile Non-Fiction

Specs Spot

What's it about?

Neither Isaac or Marco have an easy life or an easy relationship with their fathers, for that matter. Isaac is sure that if he just gets better grades and behaves better his dad will stop drinking and his parents won't actually get a divorce. Marco wants his father to just like him and want to be around him. Together the two will embark on their sixth grade year and the first year in their new school. They'll take different classes, make new friends, tell a few lies and try new things in the name of friendship, family and self preservation. Together they will work together to help both boys reach their dreams and survive some of the most difficult struggles of their young lives.


Favorite Character: I think Marco is my favorite character. He's just a sweet kid who is smart and naïve all at the same time. In fact he kind of reminds me our Rowdy from Diary of a Wimpy Kid in some ways. He just breaks my heart as he struggles to understand why his dad doesn't love him.

I also really liked Isaac's mom. She was loving, motherly and struggling to figure out how to do the right thing, be a good mom and do what's right even when it hurts her or means she has to do something she doesn't want to do.

Least Favorite Character: Marco's father. As a parent, this guy disgusts me. I don't understand how he can make the choices he makes or fail to accept his son for who he is.

Favorite Part: I'm not sure about this one. I think the last parts of it. Mostly because of the closing and the tying of loose ends. Things aren't perfect but the boys start to find their ways.

Least Favorite Part: When Isaac's dad picks him up at school. Maybe it has to do with safety, though I didn't love that, either, but more with the feelings of Isaac, his need to protect his dad and to almost jump into the parent's role just makes my heart break for him.]

Other Thoughts?

This book is an odd one, not becuase the story is odd, the story is really good but because it was balanced so well it's hard to explain. The story is filled with some very real-life topic like divorce, absent parents, drinking and feeling like you're not enough. I'd even go so far as to say that your flaws make you unworthy of love. All of these topics are heavy and challenging even for adults to face, let alone kids, but Falling Short is done in a way that is hard to explain. I feel like if it's not something you experience you have some feelings and move on, but if you do have these things in your life, it kind of hits hard. Some of the things these boys said or felt are things I've experienced, or even still do at times.

I loved the fact that Isaac and Marco are bilingual and that they speak both English and Spanish at home. I'm a firm believer in introducing multiple languages to our children, students and even ourselves when we can. I did wish, however, that there was a mini dictionary or something to help those who do not speak Spanish to translate what's said in Spanish more easily. I do know a little Spanish and was able to use contact clues for some of the lines I didn't understand, but there were still some lines I'm not entirely sure what they said. I know that daughter, 12 years old, would have had a hard time understanding what was said.

I think my absolute favorite thing about this book was the dedication. As soon as I read it, I felt seen. I felt noticed and, I won't lie, party of me wanted to cry. I knew that this was going to be a story that would help kids who may not feel worthy, see themselves as those who love them see them.

With that all being said, I did find a handful of typos in my copy of the book (which was an ARC so maybe some of those are corrected in the books to be released in March) and I did find the story line of Marco being short and then joining the basketball team to be kind of cliché and predictable, I won't lie.

I truly enjoyed this book, but I don't know that I'd go so far as to say I love it. Would I recommend it to teachers, parents and kids of the appropriate age, yes. Without a doubt. It made me laugh. It made me feel. It addressed loving yourself, body positivity and tough family relationships, all topics important to address with our youth (and even adults).

What do I rate it?

I give this book a


out of

10 basketballs

But that's just what I thought. What did you think? Did you relate to Marco, or Isaac? Let us know below.

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