I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña
Kidd is knows without doubt that even though his life is going pretty well right now, with people to help and support him, that he definitely will mess everything up. The rich girl seems to be into him, and he is truly in love with her. Maria and Red both know he will go far, and Red even helps him get an internship at a zoo so he can work with the animals he loves. But, he will mess it all up. Devon is there to remind him of that. Devon has a death wish, and literally pulls Kidd down with him.
After running away from a group home, 17-year-old Kidd Ellison sets up camp at a beach, where he is put to work by Mr. Red, an aging surfer who runs a maintenance shop. Hardworking and handsome, if somewhat slow, Kidd begins to make friends with some of the camp’s teens, especially Olivia, a blond beauty who wears a ski cap that covers part of her face regardless of the weather. Then Devon, Kidd’s former best friend and nemesis, finds Kidd and threatens to destroy the peaceful life that he has fallen into. De la Peña has crafted a taut psychological novel that will both frustrate and fascinate readers. Narrated by Kidd, it moves from the immediate past and a possible murder to the present, then to the far past, constantly offering clues to the mysteries of Kidd’s sad and violent life. The intriguing, well-developed characters introduce themes of class and gender friction, creating a puzzling and sobering yet strangely hopeful book that will stay with readers. Grades 8-11. --Frances Bradburn