• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

CYBILS Award review: The Living by Matt de la Pena


The Living by Matt de la Pena was a fave of mine from the first paragraph! I’d never read anything of his and I was excited to get to know this author. Imagine how thrilled I was to discover this Latino male protagonist all the way through! Judging for diversity was not part of the paradigm for CYBILS but it sure helps.


I’ll post the blurb but it’s not much help:

Shy took the summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he’ll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with the bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all.

But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy’s only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed.

The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.


I mean COME ONE!! The blurb makes Shy sound like an empty headed gigolo, which is the OPPOSITE of what he is. Shy is a young Hispanic American kid working a luxury boat to make money. He’s the real deal: nice guy, loves his family, he’s a good friend, and a good catch.  He’s a good guy.  You can’t help but like him. But when he learns a secret after a rich passenger throws himself overboard on the boat, Shy’s life turns crazy. CRAZY!

In a Titanic style adventure Shy and his friends struggle not only to survive but to make sense of the the puzzle pieces they are putting together. Did a medical company do something bad? What should they do about it, if anything?

And also? How do you survive when the ship you’re working on SINKS? And what about your best friends and the girl you like?

There’s NOTHING to dislike in this book. I love it because it’s fast paced, and for readers who like action, there’s plenty of it.  Female readers will love The Living because of the romance. Actually, it’s more of a  love triangle (sorry no SPOILERS).

The Living is modern, up to date, good, clean fun. Ok not clean because there’s language, but nothing your high schooler hasn’t heard or said before. But there’s no sex and you will love the multicultural cast and the strong Hispanic female character.  It appeals to all and that’s why it was my pick for the winner.

And it won; YAY!