When we first meet Diego, he's in court meeting his parole officer, Mr Vidas. Diego hit a guy in class who was looking at him funny. The guys nose was broken, the father pressed charges. Diego finds it easy to talk to Mr. Vidas, and wants to be placed on probation to learn how to control his anger. Diego, gets good grades, looks out for his younger brother and tries not to give his mother too much trouble. He does his best to forget his stepfather but the nightmares don't make it easy. Diego also has many secrets that feed his anger. It's these secrets that make him lash out at any guy that looks at him funny, gets too close or calls him gay.
Before Mr. Vida's Diego doesn't trust anyone with his secrets. To help deal with the pain, Diego begins cutting himself. This is only the second young adult novel, I've read where a male protagonist is a cutter. Before Mr. Vidas Diego is always getting into fights.
When Diego finally reveals his secret its not easy to hear. Sanchez doesn't gloss over the sexual abuse, making the readers confront it right along with the characters. Diego's stepfather was abusing him for years. He was also living with the guilt of his stepfather's suicide. With the help of Mr. Vidas, Diego slowly begins to free himself of his anger. Mr. Vidas even gives Diego the opportunity to confront his stepfather. It was a moment so fresh and real, I cried tears of sadness than relief for Diego. There aren't many young adult novels with a male protagonists that have been sexually abused. I don't know why this is since boys aren't immune to predators. Sanchez touches on a few ignored themes - like how does a child abused by one parent deal when they find out the other parent suspected something all along.
That's another thing I liked about Bait, Diego's relationship with his mother. They didn't talk at first, merely co existed. By the end they were learning to find each other again. From the beginning I believed in Diego, the heart of this novel. There is one small thing, Diego's relationship with his girlfriend, Ariel, never felt real to me. Though that won't keep me from highly recommending, Bait. Sanchez has created a three dimensional character in Diego, readers should get to know. Ages 14up
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