And trust me, Wanted doesn't disappoint.
We see Michal, who attends Carson City High and is a town bookie. Yes, she places bets right in the back of her high school. She's also tough on the outside but inside we see a girl who struggles with fitting in and trying to make sense of the racism around her. I loved how we see her feeling like she's not sure which world she belongs to. She's half Mexican-American and is drawn to the family of her childhood friend Moch but shuns the life he chose with the gang. She uses her percentage of earings to buy expensive clothing, hoping that will erase where she really came from. She also plans to earn enough from being a bookie to leave Carson City to go to college where she thinks life will be much better.
Though she helps people place bets she doesn't do this herself until she meets Josh.
The chemistry between these two is slow building while we see both of their worlds and how far apart they are. All it takes is one decision that snowballs into something Michal finds hard to stop.
The writing is right on with scenes like the six word memoirs Michal, Moah, Josh, and her other classmates have to share. The passion and intense feelings of the differences between their worlds collide.
I love how Ayarbe isn't afraid to dig deep into your characters that can be raw and very unflinching. What happens next is kind of like a Robin Hood twist where Michal and Josh use their own version of vengeance for what they think at the time is good.
Engaging and gripping, I couldn't put this book down. The ending reminds me of one of my all time favorite YA authors, Ellen Hopkins, in that it leaves you wondering without holding nothing back. Love stories that are honest without being afraid.
A must read for those who love contemporary YAs that are real with honest portrayals of teens.
2. Realistic portrayal of racism/anti-immigration sentiment
3. Gritty, raw