book review: He forgot to say goodbye
author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
date: 2008, Simon and Schuster
main characters: Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove
If I just said this is a superbly wonderful book would you rush out and buy it?
He forgot will remain one of my all time favorites. This review, probably not so good! I just don’t want to mess up Saenz’s story by telling incomplete parts, retold parts. The books is just too good for me to mess it up like that!
How did Saenz manage to tell a story that amazed me so well? I’d say he’s not a writer. I know he’s a poet.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, “To the Desert” from Dark and Perfect (El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 1995).
Saenz grew up speaking Spanish and only later learn English. In learning the language, not just carelessly picking it up, I think he honed it, learning to use it with precision and skill, words like ‘destroyed’ ‘effin’ and ‘achin elbow’ will stay with you when the story is long gone.
Saenz writes about two boys who don’t know their fathers. It’s easy for women, for me, to simply look at the events of the story: one boy learning to trust himself while another learns to respect his mother. But this is really a story of two boys finding a way to accept their fathers, their disappeared fathers. Things start a bit slow as it took a while getting into the rhythm of the writing, but you realize Saenz is writing with a wit and an intelligence not always found in YA literature. These two guys, Ram and Jake, you like them more as you get to know them better. But, Alejandra? Definitely my favorite character!
She smiled at me. “That’s a pretty good compliment. Coming from you, I mean.”
“Yeah, well, it’s true. You’re really decent.”
“But am I pretty?”
She always went fishing, that Alejandra.
“You’ve always been pretty. And you’ve always known that. I don’t know why you need me to tell you that.”
She laughed. “Figure it out.”
She noticed–but see, I didn’t say anything.
disclaimer: This book was a Christmas give from Susan.