This is Francisco X. Stork’s second novel, and like his debut effort The Way Of The Jaguar it is aimed at the young adult market. He writes in a clear and straightforward style that is ideal for this genre. This is a style that many other authors should consider using. Why use complex words and grammar structures when simple ones will work?

Behind The Eyes chronicles the life of a 16 year old Chicano boy growing up in the projects of El Paso, Texas. This is not the greatest start to anyone’s life. Hector must come to terms with the turbulent world of poverty, crime, and the ever present gangs in the area. He is an intelligent young man who finds solace in school, and works very hard to maintain a ‘cloak of invisibility’, that way the gangs will just ignore him

Unfortunately Hectors older brother does not share the ‘cloak of invisibility’ theory and brings danger to the whole family. He antagonizes one of the gang leaders by stealing his girlfriend. Needless to say, this results in a very bad situation. Hectors older brother Fili dies in a game of chicken with the gang leader, and Hector finds himself in a reform school for trying to avenge his brother’s death.

Mr. Stork has created a very interesting, timely, and thought provoking work. There is a certain amount of violence; there is a little profanity, and even a smattering of sex (more innuendo than graphic detail).

My guess is that Behind The Eyes is aimed at Grade 8 or 9 students. It would be a fabulous text to use in the classroom. It is racy enough to get the kids interest, but tame enough to get by even the most puritanical School Boards (The bible belt excepted).

Many of the concepts in the book are important ones that our young people need to understand. Death of a loved one, the gang mentality, and self worth, are just a few. What I found very interesting was the web site accompanying the book http://www.franciscostork.com/. I enjoyed visiting the site, there is a lot of very interesting material, I really liked the ideas that an educator could use in the classroom setting.

OK, so it is unlikely that Behind The Eyes will make the New York Times bestseller list. But I liked it, and I do hope that someone will use it in the school environment, this is too good not to!

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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