Why You'll Like It: Old-school 1980s. Diversity. Friendship.
I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Smiles and Nike in the Bronx. Quintero wrote a book on many topics relevant for kids in minority communities. The heart of the book is all about friendship, love, and the struggle against underlying issues (housing policies, gangs, drugs, funding etc) affecting the teen's world around them.
The authenticity that Quintero pours into these characters just leaps off the pages. Raymond is dealing with how to handle Nike since they no longer go the same school. On the other hand, Nike is investing all in energy into impressing a girl. Their frenemy, Cookie, wants to be a good counselor and Sara is just trying to fit in. When not working at camp, Nike is dealing with wanting to make a difference in the world by being involved in his community. Smiles, Sara, and Cookie all have pressing issues that they each are trying to sort out.
This book felt like a living breathing work of art, I could relate to these teens dealing with realistic life scenarios, their reactions (good and bad), and living with the aftermath of their choices.