All is well with Eddie Barajas as he starts senior year at Hamilton High. He’s no longer plagued by anxiety from his traumatic childhood. The girl he crushes on is crushing back. And unlike his friends who are stressed over getting into college, Eddie’s decision to skip college and join his stepdad in the house painting business leaves him carefree.
But, when growing hatred and division unleashed by a recent election reach his own school, Eddie takes a stand against racism. Now, white supremacists are targeting him, and old fears from his childhood trauma rise up to haunt him, challenging all of his coping skills. What are the right choices to make, and can Eddie make them?
Note: Eddie's Choice is the sequel to Shut Up.
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Robert Huynh, English teacher wrote:
The latest volume in Reynolds’ popular True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High is the ripped-from-the-headlines story of Eddie Barajas from Reynolds' novel Shut Up. Now seventeen, he is a senior at Hamilton High. When he impulsively paints over incendiary graffiti on one of the school’s walls, he finds himself the target of a gang of white supremacists, who begin posting racist comments about him on social media (Eddie’s mom is Mexican; his almost stepdad is black.) One example: “Enemy of free speech. Impure race. Defective.” And then, after he stops one of their number from fleeing after a racially motivated incident, he is actually assaulted by a group of them, leaving him with a concussion and other serious injuries. Although he doesn’t see his assailants, he recognizes the voice of one of them. What will he choose to do: tell the police or take matters into his own hands? Reynolds does an excellent job of capturing the climate of bigotry and hatred that increasingly affects the lives of contemporary Americans in the wake of the 2016 election. Never didactic, her story is dramatic and compelling while her characters are fully realized and highly empathetic, especially Eddie and Rosie, the girl he meets and falls in love with. The combination of gentle love story and novel of gritty realism makes for a compelling read. The pull-no-punches novel is sure to excite discussion and -- excellent for both classroom use and independent reading -- it is a valuable addition to Reynold’s excellent Hamilton High series.
Leesa Phaneuf, social worker wrote:
Another intense, true-to-life teen novel from Marilyn Reynolds has Eddie Barajas, grown-up and in high school. Eddie is discovering his path into adulthood with his friends and girlfriend while navigating his troubled past. He faces the challenges of finding romance, hanging out with friends and also dealing with a white supremacist group that is having a negative influence on the school. Eddie is thrust in to doing the right thing when he encounters members of the white supremacist group and has to face a life threatening situation.
Reynolds once again does not hold back and the intense and real life of teenager life and difficult choices is brought to reality. The reader is rooting for Eddie as he deals with his past and sorts his way through his journey to his future. My students love these books and for many students it is the first set of novels they truly enjoyed and comprehended.
Discussing contemporary books and movies is frequently an effective tool for building rapport and beginning to approach difficult topics when working with teens in mental health counseling. Unfortunately, it is often a challenge to find narratives that reflect the diversity of identity and experience of my young clients. Thank God for Marilyn Reynolds' Hamilton High Series! In her latest novel, Eddie's Choice, her characters represent a broad range of ethnicities and economic groups and have different interests and talents. They also have their own varied concerns and challenges including complicated parent relationships, newly blended families, evolving friendships and romances, childhood sexual abuse and the pain of dealing with contemporary racial and political tensions.
Because I work in rural Eastern Washington, I have Hispanic clients, both teens and adults, who are especially concerned about some of the issues discussed in this book including immigration policy and the white nationalist movement. I'm grateful to have a book that I can read with my clients that explores these issues and provides an opportunity for my clients to see people like themselves in a contemporary YA novel.
A teen reader writes: "This book really connects with a lot of today’s teen problems. Not only is it a great book but it can be a good piece of advice that you can take and apply wherever. Eddie’s Choice is mainly about Eddie’s hardships as a child and his choice to persevere and get through his current problems as well as the old. It is also very descriptive which makes things easier to visualize. It can be graphic sometimes and maybe uncomfortable but its all real-world things that happen every day. Eddie’s life was never normal and very rough and you can’t help but feel sympathetic for him. Eddie’s choice isn’t very dark because there are a lot of parts that made me laugh, for example, all of his jokes."