Danny Rorro is happy growing up in his mostly Italian neighborhood in Queens, where he is known as Domino, or little Dominick, after his dad. But the neighborhood is changing, and as much as Danny would like to believe that ethnicity doesn’t count, not everyone feels that way. When he tries to bridge the gap by playing basketball with a group of Latins, older kids call him “Spic lover,” and “traitor.” Before long, they decide to teach him a lesson with a baseball bat that lands him in the hospital.
With his world uprooted, Danny begins to act out at home until his parents give him a choice: military school or boarding school. The boarding school he attends is a relief in some ways, but there are still racial conflicts between an African American basketball player and white wrestlers. Once again Danny finds himself in a situation that won’t be easily solved, but he’s figured out a thing or two about fighting back without throwing a punch.
The Domino Effect by Andrew Cotto is a thoughtful coming of age story that quietly reveals Danny’s struggle to understand ethnic polarization, first love, the meaning of friendship and how to do what he knows is right. He is a flawed character who doesn’t always do the right thing, which makes him even more believable. Yet, as he comes to grips with the challenges he has faced in his life, he learns how to decide what’s right for him and move toward his future.
A book for both boys and girls, I recommend The Domino Effect for readers aged 14 and up.
The author provided me with a copy of this book to review.