Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Efrain's Secret

Efrain's Secret

Spring 2010 Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Sofia Quintero
ISBN: 9780375847066
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Efrain needs money. Even though he just broke the school's record for highest SAT score, he needs more than a 1650 to get into Harvard, and he can't even afford an SAT prep course, let alone four years' of tuition to an Ivy. If he were on speaking terms with his father, Efrain might be able to get some financial aid forms completed. But he's not going to give his father any excuse to believe he can have his newer, younger family and have Efrain too. Efrain has never before been tempted to do anything illegal; after all, he and his best friend, Chingy, cut off their former pal, Nestor, for peddling drugs to support his family. But now, Efrain's starting to wonder whether Nestor had the right idea. In fact, he's starting to think that the only way to get to college is to turn to the street. But as much as he reasons that he's different from the other guys selling on the corner, Efrain increasingly finds himself unable to maintain his feelings of justification, especially when he loses the trust of his best friend, his girlfriend, and his mother.

Teachers and parents of reluctant readers should take note. Efrain's Secret fills an important niche. Teens love stories about good kids who are tempted to the dark side; they can vicariously experience the thrill of danger and sin while still being able to root for the narrator. Yes, the story is predictable; however, that is often a boon for kids who otherwise dislike reading. Quintero has an excellent ear for dialogue and her narrative style is likely to invite young readers in. Once hooked, the fast-paced plot packed with several misunderstood characters, will keep reluctant readers engaged. I'm tempted to return to high school teaching just to toss it at my students.

Naomi Lesley   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
Random House Children's Books/Knopf

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