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Fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez lives in a housing project in southern California. He and his other Mexican-American neighbors sleep in houses made of sheetrock and tin. They sit in yards worn down to dust, and hope that somehow luck will come their way. Poverty isn't the only problem in Manny's life. His father thinks Manny is as worthless as a penny. His crazy mother thinks she can scrub away or slap away his worries. Each day Manny hopes that Bobby and Stinky, the sadistic brothers across the parking lot, won't beat him up. Manny could join a neighborhood gang, but he's determined to make his own life worth something more. Manny's story is one filled with hardship. Yet, through Robert Ramirez's narration, it also shines with the resilient spirit of a teenager who refuses to lose his hope for the future. Victor Martinez's gritty, realistic novel was chosen for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Fanfare Honor List and by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book.