Valiente: Courage and Consequences
by A. G. Castillo
Archway Publishing

"Still he just couldn’t understand the emptiness he felt in his chest. It was like his soul was searching for something, but it didn’t know what it was."

This coming-of-age story follows eighteen-year-old high school senior Chente, a basketball and tennis player who is also the school's valedictorian. Chente is one of five children whose father recently died. Besides trying to cope with this loss, Chente's best friend, Jimmy, dies from suicide, and Chente blames himself for his death. The book takes readers on a journey of seeing what life is like in high school with all the teenage angst that goes along with this.

With a new high school basketball coach, Chente finds himself having feelings for the coach—feelings he can't begin to understand. While waiting anxiously to hear from his top three colleges regarding a major scholarship, Chente and his friends continue to win basketball games, albeit without a teammate who has been banned from playing. A horrible thing is announced in a school announcement over the public address system that affects both Chente and Coach Doss. How each copes with this is examined through the rest of the story.

The book examines the drama of high school and how this affects Chente and his friends. It also explores the topic of teen suicide. As statistics reveal, the suicide rate for LGBTQ teenagers is much higher than for heterosexual teens. Additionally, the narrative examines basketball, friendships, lust and love, bullying, gossiping, and family love while also looking at the power of faith. It explores an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student and the agony of such a relationship. The book is well written, although the dialogue comes across as somewhat stilted at times. Overall, though, it is a valuable story of life, courage, family, friendships, and coming out. It could be a great read for both teens and adults due to its emotional examination of life's issues.

Honorable Mention in the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award General Fiction Category

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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