I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on March 5, 2019
Juan has plans. He’s going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and make something of himself—or at least find something better than his mom Fabi’s cruddy apartment, her string of loser boyfriends, and a dead dad. Basketball is going to be his ticket out, his ticket up. He just needs to make it happen.
His best friend JD has plans, too. He’s going to be a filmmaker one day, like Quinten Tarantino or Guillermo del Toro (NOT Steven Spielberg). He’s got a camera and he’s got passion—what else could he need?
Fabi doesn’t have a plan anymore. When you get pregnant at sixteen and have been stuck bartending to make ends meet for the past seventeen years, you realize plans don’t always pan out, and that there some things you just can’t plan for…
Like Juan’s run-in with the police, like a sprained ankle, and a tanking math grade that will likely ruin his chance at a scholarship. Like JD causing the implosion of his family. Like letters from a man named Mando on death row. Like finding out this man could be the father your mother said was dead.
Soon Juan and JD are embarking on a Thelma and Louise–like road trip to visit Mando. Juan will finally meet his dad, JD has a perfect subject for his documentary, and Fabi is desperate to stop them. But, as we already know, there are some things you just can’t plan for…
Trigger Warnings: Drug Use, Domestic Violence, Gang Violence, Assualt, Murder, Alcohol use, Gun Violence, Racism, Violence, Police Brutality.
I’ve been highly anticipating Barely Missing Everything since the moment it came across my radar back in 2017. When I saw it was finally releasing in 2019, I immediately began searching Edelweiss and Netgalley for an ARC. And finally Netgalley had the ARC but it took forever to get approved and honestly, I gave up waiting for my request to be approved. Then the day came and my request was approved and I was so excited.
Barely Missing Everything is Matt Mendez’s debut novel. Barely Missing Everything is about pain, grief, and the thought of missing something, maybe it was something you had, and maybe it was something you wish you had. It was filled with anger, resentment, rejection, and disappointment. Now, you’re probably thinking well that doesn’t sound very well good? Well, I guess you are right. But you have to trust me, this story despite how I describe it is written in a way where you can feel all that pain but also feel hope. This was actually a quick read because the reading just sucked you in from the very beginning and before you know it the story ended. Others may say that is a slow read but for me it was a quick read.
Barely Missing Everything takes place in El Paso. And as you know, I am also from El Paso so you can see why I was highly anticipating this book. The story is told in three points of view, Fabi, Juan and JD’s. They aren’t always clear about whose point of view the story is until a couple sentences in (perhaps this will change in the printing).
Juan is the first character we are introduced to and most of the story is about him. He is a senior in high school. He plays basketball and is hoping to get a scholarship to play but of course his grades aren’t that great. He has to work to get them up. He is angry at the world, his mom, his friends, himself. He is just angry. He feels like he is constantly disappointing himself. He also feels a bit hopeless. Nothing seems to be going his way. The parent in me wanted to be like “Juan! It’ll get better, I promise.” The 18-year-old Tina understood, she understood completely.
Fabi is actually Juan’s mom. Which personally, I thought it was really awesome that a parent had a POV in a YA book. I honestly can’t think of another book where this happens. Now, you are probably wondering how this works in the story but trust me it works. I connected with Fabi in many ways. For one, I am a teen mom and that is really hard. Although my son is only 7, I sometimes feel like I’m doing enough and I’m always plagued with guilt just like Fabi. I didn’t always agree with her decisions but as a mother, I understood. I also felt bad because she didn’t have the support system I had and honestly a good support system goes a long way.
I felt like Juan and Fabi were both angry not necessarily at each other but at their circumstances and they didn’t know how to really talk about it or deal with it.Not being able to talk about things is something that plagues our community or at the very least my family. It is not something we talk about and I feel like that is also something we pass down from generations. We just shut emotions down so we end up with tons of guilt and anger and resentment.
JD is the character that you will either love or hate. I personally loved him. He was probably the most forgiving of the three main characters. He didn’t take things to seriously as did Fabi and Juan. I loved the fact that he kept trying to be a better person for himself even though he had many people telling him to get over his dreams or he’d never make it. His family isn’t that good but I felt like he did the best he could with that and honestly he deserved better. I would LOVE a book about just JD.
What I Liked
- The writing! I actually started reading Barely Missing Everything at my son’s eye doctor’s appointment and was immediately sucked in. For others this story maybe a bit slow but don’t give up on it. For me, it was worth it.
- The point of views. Dual POV is very common in YA and my personal favorite. I hardly read 3 or more POVs but for Barely Missing Everything this absolutely worked. And the fact that one POV was a parent was also awesome.
- The Chapter Titles. Now, I’m not sure if this will change when it goes to print but they were really cool titles.
- The story takes place in El Paso and I loved being able to recognize areas I’ve been too.
- If you loved The Hate U Give, I feel like you’ll like Barely Missing Everything. This is told through two Latinx characters.
- The character growth, at first the characters are a bit unlikeable but that is what makes them likeable? I don’t know if that even makes sense but at the end of the story I felt like they really were developed.
- The Ending even though it wasn’t what I was expecting honestly, I thought this story was going another direction but Mendez really did a good twist to it so I thought the ending was good. Although if you read it, you may disagree with me.
What I didn’t like
- The POVs aren’t really defined so you don’t really know whose point of view it is until a few sentences in. For some that maybe confusing but overall the voices of the characters are different so that shouldn’t be too confusing.
- I didn’t really care for some of the secondary characters like Danny.
This was my most anticipated release of 2019. Did it live up to the hype? Absolutely. There was a lot of anger, a lot of disappointment and a lot of pain. But there was also hope. If you liked The Hate U Give then I think you’d like this one. Barely Missing Everything gives a voice to the brown kids who don’t always have a voice and are sometimes lost in the shuffle. And I hope Barely Missing Everything gives you a bit of hope.