My Boys

Fiction - Realistic
391 Pages
Reviewed on 06/13/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Delene Vrey for Readers' Favorite

My Boys, by Ronald L. Ruiz, is a fictional YA drama. Abel Mendoza finds himself at the end of an unfulfilling career as a Public Defender. He has been passed over for promotions and as he feels more and more unable to help his young defendants, he falls deeper into the clutches of alcohol. As his career and life spin out of control, he decides to move to Mexico. Before long he is roped into voluntarily teaching English to inmates at the youth Tutelar. As Abel has to come to terms with the dangerous young men he teaches, he becomes more and more their advocate. As time goes on, he succeeds in helping the young men be seen and heard for what they want to accomplish in life. Little did Abel know that moving to Mexico would be the one move that would bring him fulfillment and an opportunity to accomplish that which he failed to do in the USA.

Ronald L. Ruiz writes a heart-breaking but truthful reflection of the broken world that we find ourselves in today. He tells the story of four men, one of whose professional life has come to an end. In volunteering at a Tutelar in Mexico, he starts on a path to help three young men come to terms with their crimes and build a new life when released. My Boys is a gripping narration of the harsh world that poverty creates for young people, but also a reflection on the responsibility that adults have in forming and guiding young people. The book takes a hard look at child abuse and the effect it has on the child and the community. For me, the fact that Mr. Ruiz indirectly makes the point that young adults want and need to be seen and heard for who they are is very important. The seemingly unimportant action of listening and seeing a young adult as well as acknowledging what they need to communicate may be one of the most important ways to help save at-risk youth. This book does contain explicit language, sexual situations, and graphic violence, but it is presented in a palatable way and supports the message that the author is conveying. My Boys by Ronald L. Ruiz is an exceptional book with a difficult but important story to tell. The social issues dealt with are real issues that the world faces and the message that there is and can be hope for broken people, both young and old, is very important and needs to be heard.

Ronél Steyn

My Boys by Ronald L. Ruiz is the story of 65-year-old Abel Mendoza. He is at the end of his career as a lawyer in San Miguel, California. His last case as a defense attorney was his final downward spiral, resulting in his being disbarred. Due to his age and having no further job prospects, he decides to pack it all up and move to Mexico. With nothing else to fill his days or curb the loneliness that creeps in, Abel decides to accept a request to teach English at the juvenile detention facility in his area. Youngsters there who have done serious crimes are filled with a desire to learn English. In the process of teaching them, Abel Mendoza might just learn a new lesson of his own.

This book is a whirlwind that rips off every speck of paint, leaving a raw and brutal honesty exposed. Written in the first-person narrative, the reader observes events from the perspective of a 65-year-old man. This is vital due to the serious content of this book. Just as Tupac’s rapped words told the truth of life as it was for him, Ronald L. Ruiz tells us a truth not only from Mexico but from the entire world. The characters are relatable and their growth is very evident. This story has that magical ability to draw you in and then hold you close and comfort you as it reveals the brutality of life. My Boys is suitable for young adults as well as mature readers. There are a few instances of cursing, but these enhance the emotional setting of the entire story.

Rabia Tanveer

My Boys by Ronald L. Ruiz is an inspirational crime novel with four very impactful characters. Abel Mendoza was a criminal defense attorney who was at the end of his very long and harrowing career. One mistake and a mad judge landed him in a very peculiar predicament. Abel was supported to get to Mexico and report to Tutelar in Buena Vista where he was supposed to teach English to 5 boys in their late teens. Out of those five boys were Nacho, Luis, and Jimenez, and they became Abel’s boys. Abel dedicated his time and efforts to these three boys, and soon he was rewarded with a lot more than just the satisfaction of teaching them a new language. Abel Mendoza was supposed to teach these boys something worthwhile, but those boys ended up changing his life.

My Boys by Ronald L. Ruiz is such a special novel. Reading it made me feel good, calmer, and refreshed. Readers meet Abel early on and experience his stubbornness firsthand. He was angry at first and not ready to face the music. However, as time passed and he met the boys, Abel started to have an interest in their stories and their personalities, and in return, Abel was rewarded with their trust. Nacho was quite a character. At first, I got the impression that he was just angry at the world, but I later realized he was afraid of rejection and humiliation. Luis was much more than Nacho’s sidekick, and he had a story to tell too. However, it was Jimenez (later revealed to be Javier) who gave Abel the purpose and drive to do better and be better. Such novels are a blessing to read. Readers learn about a completely different culture, the people of a country, and how a single act of kindness can truly change the life of a person. And remember, kindness is a two-way street. Fascinating, entertaining, and inspirational.