by M. E. Delgado
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Barrio City Press (March 2, 2008)
Rating: 4 stars of 5 possible
The First Sandcastle is a coming of age story about a young man growing up in a dysfunctional family. The main character, Marlo Clemente, attempts to reconcile the love he feels for his mother and the warped view of life taught by his father... that women are evil.
Marlo's art and his friends provide solace from everyday home life. When one of Marlo's friends (Danny) falls in love with a girl who uses Danny for her own purposes and then crushes his hopes and dreams, this only reinforces what Marlo has learned from his father.
How Marlo deals with the further confusion that sets in when he meets a girl he feels is unlike others is a captivating story that gives the reader a lot to think about. The peer pressure of growing up, and the issues a normal teen must deal with, along with the not-quite-separate issues that evolve from the family's dysfunctional relationships among themselves and others are deeply felt by the reader. The timeless feel and the steady pacing of this story should provide a basis for a wide audience, though I have the feeling that it is also the ideal YA novel.
Mr. Delgado builds the highly emotional story to a dramatic climax and makes the reader feel every minute of Marlo's pain when he discovers that he's just as his girlfriend's mother says: "exactly like all the other boys". Marlo's relationship with his own mother improves and she helps him realize that we are all human and fallible.