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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is Francisco X. Stork’s most recent young adult novel. Pancho knows hardships – he lost his mother, father, and, most recently, his sister. The coroner’s report states that Pancho’s mentally-disabled sister, Rosa, died of natural causes, but Pancho knows that someone killed her. Feeling that he let his father down by not protecting Rosa, Pancho is determined to find the person responsible for her death and make him pay. He is given an opportunity to continue his education and get a fresh start at St. Anthony’s, an orphanage for boys. Once there, he becomes an aide to wheelchair-bound DQ, a fellow teenager who is battling a deadly form of brain cancer. DQ is unlike anyone that Pancho has known; he talks too much and intuitively knows the anger that consumes Pancho. DQ tells Pancho about the book he is writing called the Death Warrior Manifesto. When DQ’s wealthy mother insists that DQ come to Albuquerque for more powerful chemotherapy treatments, he convinces Pancho to come with him. Initially, Pancho’s motives for going have nothing to do with DQ; they have to do with his plan for revenge. Through the use of beautiful dialogue and difficult circumstances, Stork takes two strangers and creates a friendship that produces touching life lessons. Will Pancho avenge Rosa’s death? Will DQ escape his mother’s personal agenda to live his life the way he chooses? DQ’s Death Warrior Manifesto will change the way you look at life. Although this is on the Texas Lone Star reading list 2011-12, it is most appropriate for mature 8th graders and higher. Readers may be familiar with Stork’s previous novel, Marcelo in the Real World, which received soaring accolades.

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