Manz is sure of one thing: he lives on the wrong side of the tracks in dusty Rockhill, Texas. Life is tough for everyone—his hard-drinking mother, her truck-driving boyfriend, even his privileged friend Jed—but especially for Manz, the mixed-race son of migrant apple pickers. If he could only get out of town, his life would be better.
When the summer heat sets in, Manz and Jed take a job rebuilding fence for a cattle ranch outside town. There he meets Vanessa, who works in the ranch’s kitchen. The two hit it off, but Manz isn’t sure he can trust her. As the dog days drag on, Manz must negotiate an unwieldy terrain involving his unpredictable mother, a best friend whose father uses him as a punching bag, and a simmering, creeping delusion that “Operation Wetback”—which brutally relocated illegal aliens deep in Mexican territory following World War II—has been put back into effect. Manz’s bright and questioning mind begins to give in to its own claustrophobic temptations as he finds guidance in the voices that have been growing louder and more insistent each day.
A revealing look a one young man’s struggle with identity and the effects of schizophrenia.
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Praise and Prizes
“The first-person narrative gives readers a poignant close-up of the teen’s gradual loss of control to paranoid schizophrenia. Jessica Lee Anderson’s vivid portrayal of this frightening illness nevertheless offers hope for the valiant human spirit.”
“A page-turner. Jessica Lee Anderson manages to be both realistic and compassionate in her depiction of mental illness.”
“The descriptions of Manz’s escalating symptoms are compelling. There are few books for teens on the subject of schizophrenia. . . . A fast read, this book will provoke discussion and, perhaps, further research.”
“Poignant. Through the teenager’s first-person narration, Jessica Lee Anderson traces the isolated landscape of Rockhill, a very small town in Texas, and reveals the distressing stories behind the apparent simplicity of its inhabitants’ lives. [A] thought-provoking exploration of mental illness.”
“This taut coming of age novel explores mental illness and border issues in an honest and clear voice.”