Ages 14 & up
In his junior year, seventeen-year-old Abraham learns how to drive a stick shift. He falls in love for the first time. And he has been in three fights and suspended twice, all before Thanksgiving. His grandmother and her girlfriend, the ones who have raised him, fear for his life and the hard future that awaits him. “He needs a father,” his grandmother says. “He needs a man. I can't do this, Becky. We can't. Not on our own.”
Soon, his Uncle Claudio—the son with a fat police file who has hurt his mother so many times—is back in the house. Determined to make a man of his nephew, he takes the boy to the gym and shows him how to use free weights and become bigger and stronger. Meanwhile, Abraham's feelings for his friend Ophelia grow, and she tries to understand why he fights. “This will end badly,” she warns. “Nothing good can come from this.”
At school, Abraham learns about genetics, and he wonders if people are born bad. Is it in their DNA? Was he born to punch and kick and scream and fight and destroy things because of the genes in his body? Is that what happened to his father? All he knows is that his father is dead and his mother is gone. In Joe Jiménez's striking debut novel for teens, a young man struggles with his family's refusal to talk about the violence that has plagued it and what it means to become a man. Does a boy need a father to become a good man?
I received several advanced titles from the publisher a while back and just randomly picked out Bloodline to read. So glad I did. The author, Joe Jimenez, is a remarkable storyteller. The tale of 17-year-old Abraham is told in second person--in other words, YOU are Abraham. Normally, I shy away from books like this, but the writing is so compelling, so beautiful, I was soon deeply absorbed into the story. Bloodline is about a boy from a rough neighborhood and a broken family. But Abraham's tender heart is revealed through his love for his girlfriend, Ophelia, and the lyrical language in which he relates his life. I was hooked from the first page, and my heart nearly imploded on the last. Warning: Read this with a box of tissue nearby. Bloodline is sure to haunt me for years to come. A very powerful five stars!
Sexuality: Moderate (one mention toward the end of the book)
Violence: Moderate (more subject matter than actual content)