Monday, June 24, 2013


The man they called "Shoe" was in way over his head.  Having been chosen from a group of immigrant day workers standing around a mall parking lot, he showed up at the construction site without the steel-toed boots he needed to protect himself.  Now, he was so deep inside a slippery, muddy trench that he could barely make his way back to solid ground after the foreman grew frustrated with his work.  Instead of helping him, the rest of the crew laughed at Shoe's efforts to get out of the hole he stood in.  But Shoe was used to it.  That was pretty much the story of his life.

Jon Pineda's Apology is the story of a simple man with a tragic childhood who is still hoping to make a better life for himself in the United States.  For someone who started life the way Shoe did, that should not be all that difficult, but all these years later he is still struggling to find his place in his new country.  He is grateful that his brother has taken him for the moment, but he knows he is in the way and that his sister-in-law will be happy to see him go.  Shoe will miss his brother and his nephew Mario - even his sister-in-law - but he understands why she feels that way.

Things will change sooner than any of them expect.

Tom and Teagan, nine-year-old twins, are part of Mario's neighborhood crowd.  After Teagan suffers a devastating brain injury that forever traps her inside her childhood, she is unable to tell investigators what happened.  The few clues available to investigators, however, all point toward Shoe, and rather than admit to police that his young nephew was somehow involved in the incident, Shoe chooses silence and a long prison term.  Scarred by his own childhood, he wants to make sure that Mario gets off to a better start than he managed for himself.

Jon Pineda
Apology, because it uses a rapid-fire series of scenes and flashbacks to tell Shoe's story, has a cinematic feel that makes a vivid impression on the reader.  This debut novel is filled with the kind of questions that do not have black or white answers.  Readers will have to decide for themselves if Shoe's decision to sacrifice his own future on his nephew's behalf was the right one - or whether it was even necessary.  Did it really change anything for Mario?  Was it, perhaps, the only thing Shoe could have ever done to transform his own life into a success story?  Was it worth it?

Bottom line:  Jon Pineda packs a lot into what is a relatively short debut novel.  Apology might be a tragedy, but it is likely to leave the reader feeling a little better about the human condition.  

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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