This probably won’t be a review that earns me any new friends : (
Diego has a problem controlling his anger. What began with punching walls has escalated to attacking other students and criminal charges resulting in probation. While meeting with his parole officer, Diego will be forced to confront his demons in order to learn how to control his anger.
I realize that I’m not the target audience when it comes to this book, but one of my problems is I’m still not sure who is. Although this is a story about child molestation the writing style read middle-grade to me and the characters were extremely one-dimensional.
Now let’s get on to the main issues I had with Bait. To begin with, the “lesson” learned by Diego. Yes, he eventually confronts his demons head on (in a bizarro-séance-of-sorts since the molester is dead that wrapped up his problems with his abuser in a tidy little package *cough* cop out *cough*), but an exorbitant amount of time was spent focusing on the fact that “just because someone is gay it doesn’t make them a child molester.” I don’t have a problem with the above being addressed (because an abused child might very well question his sexuality and have fears of following in the footsteps of his abuser and whatnot) . . . but to have that be the trigger for all of his anger? Ummmmm, what about dealing with the real problem – Diego’s MOTHER. She was the catalyst in the situation.
When I started this story I was curious to see how the title would tie in. Now you tell me if you read a book with this title and find out it’s about a non-English speaking single mother living in poverty who has a chance to get to a better life in the United States if only she ignores the fact that her new beau seems to really be interested in her young son that you don’t immediately make the connection that said son was being used as “bait.” Spoiler alert: He was. What Diego’s mother did was criminal. She was a shitty, selfish, heartless, disgusting excuse for a human who washed out her child’s BLOODY. F-ING. UNDERPANTS. without ever questioning what was going on. And when Diego finally got the nerve to tell her what was happening? She called the kid a liar and told him to quit being selfish or he’d ruin their new life. Again, as horrifying as it is, I realize this happens quite frequently in real life. My trouble? The way the book handles it with the parole officer’s supervised “confrontation” where Diego spills his guts yet again and forces his mother to see the truth . . . And then all is forgiven and Diego will be able to work on his anger and now talk to his wretched excuse for a parent whenever he has a problem.
It could potentially take a lifetime of therapy to get over all of the trauma Diego went through. I don’t give a flip if a book is “YA” or not – if it’s going to be ballsy enough to address something as serious as molestation it better not just be for the shock-and-awe factor that will increase book sales. It needs to make sure it is honest as well.