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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Teenage Mosaic: A Story of Murder, Revenge, and Forgiveness is a young adult and new adult contemporary fiction novel written by Dewey Pasquini. What started out as teens acting out in a restaurant and harassing their waitperson until they got him fired would turn out to have repercussions that none of the parties involved could ever have envisioned. The four Jefferson High boys and their dates had been raised in a culture that said Mexicans were worthless, illegal and gang members. Tito, the waiter they had harassed, was actually an honor student, who needed his job to help his mom pay the bills. A week later, after a hotly contested football game between Jefferson High and Washington High, which had been held at the predominantly white and upper middle class Jefferson High, Tito and his three friends, all honor students, were concerned about simply getting home without having problems with Jefferson students. They were all too familiar with the hateful rhetoric spouted by talk radio and television commentators on the right, and could sense the hostility of many white students who didn’t know anything about them or their lives and had bought into their parents’ attitude and hatred. As the four boys were considering how best to react in the event of a confrontation, four Jefferson students started heckling them from across the street. When Tito and his friends continued on their way, the students crossed the street and confronted them. Tito recognized them as the boys who had gotten him fired, and something broke within him. He was so tired of being bullied, being treated as inferior no matter how hard he worked or how high his achievements.
Dewey Pasquini’s legal thriller, Teenage Mosaic: A Story of Murder, Revenge, and Forgiveness, is a frank and sorely needed look at the repercussions and psychic injuries that are part of the everyday lives of people of color as a result of the hate-filled rhetoric of talking heads about immigrants and their place in society. The author, who was an educator, coach and principal for 32 years, shows quite eloquently how the hate, the ignorance, and fear that spawns it is passed down to their children, who in all reality have much more in common than those perceived as 'the other' than differences. His story shows all too clearly how systematic bullying can cause even the most honorable and caring person to snap.
Pasquini’s story has marvelous heroes who are larger than life, especially Reverends Bascom and Jones, who are so instrumental in making a difference, as well as the young adults themselves, who must find a way to get past that legacy of hatred to live fully. I was so moved by this novel. One doesn’t have to belong to that portion of society bent on demonizing people of color and immigrants to fail to recognize the awful impact all that hatred has on kids as they’re growing up. Each of the kids in this book is a victim, and Pasquini makes that very clear. Teenage Mosaic: A Story of Murder, Revenge, and Forgiveness is most highly recommended.