Read Fighting for Dontae by Mike Castan Online


Javier's life is going nowhere fast. He hates seventh grade, his father's locked up, and his mother can't be relied on. He and his friends are in a gang; but he doesn't even know why he joined the Playaz in the first place, since hanging with them is like asking for trouble from the cops. When he is assigned to work with the special education class, Javier thinks that theJavier's life is going nowhere fast. He hates seventh grade, his father's locked up, and his mother can't be relied on. He and his friends are in a gang; but he doesn't even know why he joined the Playaz in the first place, since hanging with them is like asking for trouble from the cops. When he is assigned to work with the special education class, Javier thinks that the one thing he had going for him in middle school--his social life--is over. Little by little, though, Javier realizes that he actually enjoys reading to Dontae, a severely disabled boy his age. When everything else around him is falling apart, working with Dontae becomes the one thing worth fighting for....

Title : Fighting for Dontae
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780823423484
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fighting for Dontae Reviews

  • NebraskaIcebergs
    2019-05-21 22:15

    Mike Castan’s heart is in the right place with Fighting for Dontae, which he dedicates from “one-at-risk student to another”. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it because of its stereotypes.First, there is Castan’s portrayal of Latin American youth. Main character Javier is poor and belongs to a gang. He is so poor that his family doesn’t have a television or cell phone, nor can they afford for him to buy new clothes for school or attend the movies. To fit in with the gang, Javier wears a white t-shirt and baggy pants. This describes all of his friends too, who have cash and luxuries only when they steal them, except some of them also get into using chains, dealing drugs, and invoking revenge which lands them in juvenile court. In addition, Javier’s mother struggles to hold onto a minimum-wage job and his dad spends most of his time in jail. Don’t get me wrong. Poverty, gangs, and dysfunctional families do exist. It’s even commendable that Castan portrays Javier as being conflicted about his delinquent lifestyle and eventually turning away from it. But why does he portray only the Latino youth as being in trouble? And why is it that when Javier becomes friends with smart and wealthy classmate, she’s white and Jewish? I don’t live in California, so I can’t claim to have an understanding of what life is like there for Latino youth. It just seems wrong that Castan could have created a story with fewer stereotypes and more complex individuals.Second, there is Castan’s portrayal of Special Education students. Initially, my biggest complaint was that Castan fell into the trap of many authors who feature those with special needs. The students in Fighting for Dontae aren’t portrayed as individuals in their own right, but rather serve as agents of change in Javier’s life. Almost from the start, the reason Javier likes to escape to the Special Education room is that in there he feels “as if he is doing something important”. As I continued reading, however, I felt offended that Castan again resorted to stereotypes, in that the students with special needs are said to be always happy. The rare moment they aren’t happy, the Special Education teacher tells Javier, “Just because he’s in my class doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel. He’s human….” While this is true, it feels heavy-handed. Following this conversation is another line I hate, “My students are very sensitive. They know who’s there to help them. They know where your heart is.” Special Education students aren’t mystical beings and it’s a disservice to portray them in this way.There is better Latino literature out there for young people, as well as more complex books about gang life or about special education students. Skip Castan’s book.

  • Clementine
    2019-04-25 03:00

    Javier’s life is already set out for him, and he’s just entering middle school. He lives with his mom, who struggles with money and drugs. Sometimes his father’s around, when he’s between jail trips. Dontae and his friends are supposed to be in a gang and are constantly being asked to prove their own toughness. Javier struggles with all of this plus the fact that he likes to read and doesn’t actually want to court trouble, let alone be in it. When his school assigns him a service project working with the kids in special education, he knows he’ll never hear the end of it. What he doesn’t expect is to end up loving it–especially when he gets to read to a severely disabled Dante.Mike Castan’s story about a young boy fighting against the inevitability of his own future is tailor-made for reluctant readers, but it also has broader appeal because it doesn’t pander to its audience. Although Castan’s prose is simple and there’s not a lot of time given to detailing the characters who inhabit Javier’s world, the story works quite well.There’s also the fact that this will likely resonate with many of the readers in the intended audience. Javier’s father actually sums up the underlying problem Javier faces: “I mean, it’s easy to say you want to do something, but can you see the path? Shoot, man. I wanted to do a lot of things, but I had no idea how to even start.” Javier’s own interior conflict: fitting in with his peers or fighting for a chance to break free of his (doomed) future is mirrored in his father’s struggles to stay out of prison. Castan’s novel doesn’t try to sugarcoat the fact that Javier’s world doesn’t have a lot of good options for him.Which is why reading with Dante is such a nice contrast to the darkness of Javier’s world. As he and Dante form a bond through reading, Javier starts to feel what it would like to be successful. This positivity should impact readers as well.A moving story that should work especially well for tween and teen boys. Recommended.Fighting for Dante by Mike Castan. Holiday House: 2012. Library copy. Read for Cybils 2012 Round 1 Panel.

  • Barbara
    2019-05-16 20:01

    This story depicts the struggles of a young man and his friends in the inner city. Javier is in seventh grade and joins a gang because the gang says so - they jump him and after being badly beaten in the initation he is in, no choice in the matter. But he does chose to stay as out of things as possible. Students will understand his struggle to be himself, when the friends he has grown up with turn to drug use and violence. His father is in and out of jail, more in than out. When he comes home things are great, but eventually he breaks a law and ends up back inside. Javier has one thing going for him. A teacher that he learns to like and respect takes an interest in him. When he is forced to do a service project, that teacher recruits him as an aide to the special ed class she teaches. At first concerned that his friends will call him just another "retard", he learns to care for the kids he cares for, and have pride when he can help them. And when that teacher lets him know she beleives in him, his natural intelligence and empathy come to the fore. Dontae and the other kids need him, and that need serves as a counter pull to the call of the gang, the increasing violent confrontations his friends are involved in, and the drugs that surround him.At times the story gets a little preachy. But it shows the difference a caring adult can make if he/she says just the right word at the right time in a young person's life.Yes, there is cursing, there is a gang, and these are real kids, not saits. And yes, there is drug use, one of many temptations Javier and other real kids have to confront and learn to avoid. Watching Javier say no may help other kids learn to do the same thing. And watching Javier help Dontae and the other kids int he class serves as an example of the power that caring for someone else can have for the giver.

  • Peg
    2019-05-15 21:06

    Seventh-grader Javier is nervous about starting middle school in his Hispanic neighborhood, an unwilling member of a gang, and unhappy with his family life. His three good friends and his love of reading bring him some satisfaction, but he seems to be yearning for a more connected and meaningful life. He’s dismayed to learn his work-study job is as an aide to the Special Ed. Class, but it is there that he is able to calm his mind and gain the strength to face each day. He’s always been observant and by watching these special people, his empathetic tendencies rise to the surface and he is good working with them. Outside this classroom, it's a whole different world for him. There is cursing, drinking, drug use, gang violence, absent parents—situations faced by all too many young people today. As Javier navigates his way through all this, he finds no simple answers; wisely the book has an unresolved ending. The reader knows what Javier wants, but not if he has the strength to make it happen. The language and characters are pretty straightforward, making this an easy read for middle schoolers or older reluctant readers. It does seem a bit preachy at times, especially when Javier relates a conversation with his father or his thoughts about the special kids (their needs and feelings) in Mrs. Aronson’s classroom. Yet, he does seem comfortable working with them and earns their affection and trust. Javier is fortunate to have an adult believe in him and help him begin to use his natural intelligence and emphathy. Castan does a good job presenting several disabilities in a matter-of-fact way and allows a peak into a classroom not seen by most.

  • Barbara
    2019-05-03 03:23

    Seventh grader Javier is heading downhill fast. He and his friends are drawn into the fringes of the gangsta life simply because there's nothing much to do and there's no money to much of anything. School has always been boring, for the most part, and when he is assigned to work with the youngsters in a special education class, he is less than thrilled since he knows that his peers will ridicule him. But for some reason, he connects with a boy named Dontae, who loves having Javier read a book by Ernest Hemingway to him, as well as to some of the other children in the class. While Mrs. Aronson, the teacher of the class, is savvy enough to see through some of Javier's defensive behavior and knows that he has light fingers, she also sees potential in him and is pleased that he is good with her students. As things improve at home and at school for Javier--he finds a romantic connection with Jessica--Javier watches as several of his other friends get in trouble. Readers who are disinterested in school and many of the books teachers offer them are likely to find much truth in Javier's story, and while it isn't sure that he has a bright future, he has a much brighter one now that he has some sense of purpose. I liked how Javier was an avid reader who would give any book suggested by his teacher a try. Like many of us, he seems to have found that reading often offers an escape from the world around us.

  • Hayden
    2019-05-24 23:14

    SLJ Gr 6-8-On the first day of seventh grade, Javier's English class is visiting the library when the special ed kids arrive. Not only does Javier steal a book for himself, but he also hands Lanzo, a nonverbal child, a book that he was eyeing. When student jobs are announced later that week, Javier is dismayed to learn that he will be helping with the special ed class, and he's convinced that his life, as far as his middle school social status is concerned, is effectively over. Javier's dad is in jail, his mom struggles with drug addiction, and he and his group of friends are members of the Southside Playaz gang-a surefire path straight to jail. Two of his friends regularly run errands for older gang members and a third gets high every day. It turns out that Javier's school assignment is the one thing he's got going for him; he discovers that he loves working with the special needs kids. Javier's world near L.A. is gritty and bleak, but not devoid of hope. His effort to figure out who he is, and who he wants to be, will speak to readers from all walks of life. The novel is strongest when Javier is interacting with his friends and less believable when he is too self-reflective. A solid choice, especially for reluctant readers.-

  • readknitread
    2019-05-07 02:08

    Javier is just starting 7th grade. He is reluctantly in the local gang, his mom is a recovering tweeker, his dad is in jail more than he is home and all but 3 of his friends have disappeared. They are either lost to meth, in juvie or their parents have managed to get them out of the town Obre Nuevo. The only thing Javier has going for him is his social status. He is neither bottom of the barrel or top dog. He is happy in the middle. But he knows this is at risk when he gets assigned as a student aide to the special ed class. Can he hide the fact that he is helping the special ed kids? And more importantly to him can he hide the fact that he is having a good time helping these kids?An easy read that doesn’t have complicated language. Javier is a very self-reflecive for a 7th grader but the story is overall believable for realistic fiction. I have an issue with the title and cover. The cover doesn’t really depict any of the characters. And Dontae he is part of Javier’s self reflection but isn’t really a main component. The only real “fight” is Javier telling his friend not to call the kids retards. Possible pitfalls: tween/teen drinking and drug use, gang activity and adult drug reference

  • Lavabearian (Jessica)
    2019-05-12 21:09

    So I still think that the cover does not do anything for this book. It looks like a pedophile intimidating their prey. The voice in the this book was also really unrealistic. I have a hard time believing that a 12-year-old boy can have mature thoughts like Javier and be so self-aware in middle school about shoes, classes, perceptions, and even predicting how things are going to go in social situations. He seems more like a 15 year-old. Also, I think that even if this was a realistic story and believable, I have a hard time accepting that this 12-year-old vulnerable boy would have so much self-control when his peers are constantly smoking pot, skipping school, stealing and participating in other gang related activities. My honest opinion is that this book was created after and episode of The Wire, an HBO series. I hold to my initial reaction to this book, a NO for the list.

  • Kayta
    2019-05-03 22:21

    Fighting for Dontae centers around Javier, a young man living in a rundown town in California, where it's expect, and enforced, that he joins the gang that runs his block. His father is in and out of prison most of the time and his mother struggles with drug addiction while Javier tries to decide what kind of life he wants to live. At first he figures that this is it, that there is no getting out of the gang life. On the second day of seventh grade he is assigned to work as a Special Ed. Aide. At first he is mortified, knowing that the other kids will make fun of him. Then he starts working with Dontae, who seems not to care for anyone, that is until he meets Javier. Soon Javier sees a light, a way out of this life he thought would be it for him. This story is inspiring, real, and beautiful.

  • Maggie
    2019-05-25 21:01

    This is a good book for middle school libraries. It has a positive message and one students need. However, I'm not sure that the students who are living this life will find Javier realistic. His father is in and out of jail and his mother is on and off of drugs and he belongs to a gang and yet he still manages to get to school every day and stay out of trouble. It is possible. But...Students working with special education students can be a very positive thing and in Javier's case, a real motivator. Javier discovers that he actually likes helping the students and is drawn to the caring teacher and environment. I loved this aspect. Bottom line, caring environments and caring people promote positive, safe school environments for all.

  • Laura
    2019-05-26 04:20

    I've been recommending this book for years to my students without having read it myself. My students said it as good and I took their word.I finally read it and my students were right.The main character reminds me of Ponyboy from The Outsiders. He's in a gang yet he's also a dreamy reader. There are also absentee parents: Ponyboy's an orphan while these parents are in jail and too busy to deal with their son.There's all sorts of stuff parents would disapprove of: drugs, cursing, alcoholism, gang activity. Yet it's all realistic and necessary to the story.I'm going to continue to recommend this book but it's going on my "mature" shelf. I think my students need it.

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-21 23:11

    It's been almost a year since I read this (wow, time flies!). It's probably great for reluctant readers, but I really didn't get how the book could be called Fighting for Dontae. The particular friendship between Javier and Dontae is not the main plot in my opinion; it's more that Javier finds something productive to make his life a little better, which happens to be reading to Dontae. There is an apparent disconnect between the title and what happens in the story, so I didn't recommend it to a teacher friend who teaches seventh grade.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-20 02:15

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I picked it up as a possibility for Cafe Book and while I'm not sure it is a Cafe Book, Book.. it is one I think that many teenagers should read. I loved the growth of Javier throughout the story as he works more and more with the special needs class at work. I also enjoyed seeing him struggle with the gang related issues and him deciding he didn't want to be like that. I thought it was really sweet how attached Javier became to Dontae. I really really enjoyed this book & it is not my "typical" read.

  • Ann Marie
    2019-04-25 00:08

    This was a quick and easy read...recommend for the fourth and fifth grade summer reading list...maybe a sixth grade...Javiers life is not the best but it is still better than Dontaes...fate connects the two and so the story is written...the story is one of tolerance - which everyone needs to learn...the title would lead one to believe it is a physically violent book but there really is no fight for Dontae...the story is more about Javier and his ability to cope with everything

  • Dodie
    2019-04-24 22:28

    A story of remorse and redemption, and a solid choice for reluctant middle grade readers from urban environments. They will recognize the temptation from the 'easy' gang side and the hope of the college bound, or at least hopeful, kids from the lower classes. I was rooting for Dontae all the way.

  • Anne Harlan
    2019-05-01 23:18

    I was engaged by this book, but ended up feeling disappointed. Too many little details are unrealistic. Maybe if it had a different title I would like it better. Javier never fights for Dontae either physically or metaphorically. The book is not about Dontae; his name shouldn't be in the title.

  • Ms. Yingling
    2019-05-12 02:03

    There were a lot of things I liked about this book. Main character of color who loved to read and is fighting difficult circumstances, who learns to champion the underdog. Great stuff. However, there was also foul language, a lot of casual drug use, and a small problem with unstable focus. Drat.

  • Great Books
    2019-05-18 21:10

    Seventh-grader Javier is hanging with the Playaz, a street gang. He gets assigned to help with the special ed class at school where he meets Dontae, a severly disabled boy his own age. Could this be Javier's chance to change?Reviewer 20