Author: Heidi Ayarbe
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Source: Publisher / Teen Book Scene
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence, Mild Language
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers looking for a different type of contemporary that is gritty and honest.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
A one-word text message: That's all Michal "Mike" Garcia needs to gather a crowd. Mike is a seventeen-year-old bookie, and Sanctuary is where she takes bets for anyone at Carson High with enough cash. Her only rule: Never participate, never place a bet for herself.
Then Josh Ellison moves to town. He pushes Mike to live her life, to feel a rush of something -- play the game, he urgest, stop being a spectator.
So Mike breaks her one rule. She places a bet, feels the rush.
In an act of desperation, she and Josh -- who has a sordid past of his own -- concoct a plan: The pair will steal from Carson City's elite to pay back Mike's debt. Then they'll give the rest of their haul to those who need it most. How can burglary be wrong if they are making things right?
WANTED will thrust readers into the gritty underbelly of Carson City, where worth is determined by a score, power is derived from threat, and the greatest feat is surviving it all.
Let me start by saying that Wanted turned out to be so different from everything else that I've read this year, that I was simply blown away from the start. As soon as I was introduced to Michal, a young girl turned bookie, there was no turning back. I'm not very familiar with the betting world, but Ayarbe makes it easy to understand the life that Michal has placed herself in. Her honest voice sucked me in, and her inability to see how important she was kept me coming back for more. I was rooting for her.
I'll admit that I personally connected with Michal instantly. For me, it was based on the fact that both she and I are stuck in the middle of two very different worlds. For Michal, her Mexican heritage is something that was stripped away from her long ago. I won't spoil anything, but this makes things very interesting for her during her high school life. Ayarbe tackles some ideas in this book that will be sure to make some readers squirm a bit. Illegal immigrants, unfair health care, gang violence and so much more are all addressed in black and white.
However there is so much more in Wanted than just messages about equality and humanity. At its core, this is a story about looking for the purpose in your life. Michal, Josh, all the students at the high school, are just trapped in the roles that society has set out for them. Stereotypes and labels hold them in one spot, unable to find their true potential. There are characters in this story that you just can't help cheering for. Despite how messed up they might seem, or the choices they make, you know there is some good under that tough exterior.
Wanted has a last chapter that tore my heart out. I'll warn you now. However the ending was so perfect that it is still hard for me to wrap my mind around. I guarantee you'll be thinking about this book well past finishing it. If you are a fan of Heidi Ayarbe's books, this is one you won't want to miss. If you're just entering her world of fantastic writing, welcome. Wanted is great place to start.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.