SOCIAL SCIENCES

Show Them You’re Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College

Scribner. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781982116330. $28. SOC SCI
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Hobbs (The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace) writes an intimate, empathetic chronicle of senior year of high school, as lived by Carlos and Tio at Ánimo Pat Brown, a charter high school in Los Angeles, and Owen and Sam, 15 miles and a world away at Beverly Hills High School. Hobbs listened to and observed these college-bound students throughout the 2016–17 school year, during which Carlos was accepted to an array of Ivy League institutions while awaiting DACA acceptance and while his family faced eviction from their longtime home. Meanwhile, Tio coped with his father’s alcoholism and struggled with college admissions, but also ran the Los Angeles Marathon and was crowned prom king. Sam spent his free time in Academic Decathlon and navigated his relationship with his Chinese American mother, and Owen reckoned with his privilege as scion of an accomplished Hollywood family, and with his mother’s debilitating chronic illness.
VERDICT Hobbs arranges dozens of vignettes of these boys and their friends, foregrounding their experiences and centering their voice in a beautifully rendered group portrait of adolescents and of adolescence itself.

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