Cover image for Secret Saturdays
Secret Saturdays
Publication Information:
New York, NY : G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Group (USA), c2010.
Physical Description:
195 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
HL 580 L Lexile
Twelve-year-old boys living in a rough part of New York confront questions about what it means to be a friend, a father, and a man.


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Sean is Justin's best friend; or at least Justin always thought he was. Lately, Sean has been acting differently. He's been telling lies, getting into trouble at school and hanging out with a tougher crowd, getting into fights. This isn't like Sean at all. When Justin finally discovers that Sean's been secretly visiting his father in prison, Justin wants to do something to help. But what if confronting Sean means Justin loses his very best friend?

Author Notes

Torrey Maldonado is ateacher born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where hestill lives. Secret Saturdays is inspired by his life and theexperiences of his students.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Friends Justin and Sean, both 12, live in the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn, are Puerto Rican and African American, and have absentee fathers. Sean is straying further from their friendship, avoiding their scheduled sleepovers, lying, and not doing as well in school. He's been getting into more and more fights when he used to advocate dissing instead of fists. Where is Sean going on Saturdays? Maldonado explores issues of manhood, friendship, and family in this heartfelt, humorous, and poignant urban tale. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sixth-graders Justin and Sean have been best friends since fourth grade and have a lot in common: raised in Brooklyn projects by their mothers, they're both half black/half Puerto Rican and share a love of rapping. So when Sean starts sneaking away with his mother on Saturday morning trips and increasingly acting like a bully, Justin feels a rift forming. Debut author Maldonado convincingly portrays roughneck playgrounds where boys are expected to be "hard," and to "[d]is or get dissed on." Justin's narration resonates with the authenticity of a preteen doing his best in an urban landscape that has taught him all he knows: "It sucks not having a father or uncle, because I see boys out here playing football and doing things with their dads and uncles. I have to do that stuff with my mother. Which is cool. But kind of gay too." There are some heavy-handed moments-a TV talk show about male emotions helps Justin decide to speak with Sean about his feelings-but the book remains a moving portrayal of the hope to be found through honest relationships. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Growing up fatherless in the Brooklyn projects, twelve-year-old best friends Justin and Sean know they have a chance for a good future if they do well in school and stay out of trouble. That's why Sean's newly confrontational behavior worries narrator Justin. The street-dialogue-heavy writing is a little clumsy, but themes of friendship, fatherhood, and peer pressure are well addressed. Copyright 2010 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Dissing is like boxing, Justin thinks except you fight with words instead of fists. The best disser around is Sean, who is not only mad popular but also Justin's best friend. They are so tight, in fact, that the other kids call them twins: both are half black and half Puerto Rican, completely obsessed by hip-hop, and love to freestyle rap with each other. But now Justin is worried because something is happening to Sean. His disses are turning vicious, his grades are suffering, and he is retreating behind a wall of silence and secrets. Could it have something to do with the unexplained, out-of-town trips he and his mother are making? Justin is determined to find out. Maldonado's first novel set in Brooklyn's Red Hook Housing Projects, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York is notable for its viscerally authentic treatment of setting. Though occasionally didactic and a bit programmatic, its voice Justin's first-person vernacular is infectiously readable, and its characters are sympathetically and memorably realized.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist