Betting Blind: Betting Blind #1 by Stephanie Guerra


It’s a difficult proposition for an author to write a story with characters who are addicted to the “easy way out” and use that and their own selfishness to further their position in life.  To keep readers interested enough despite despicable and frankly, unlikable characters in lead roles. Developing empathy for the character that doesn’t know different works at first, but continued bad choices when other options are presented just doesn’t give readers a ton to hold on to. Sadly, the reality of the situation (and characteristics) intrudes on the story and makes it all too real.  I’m all for reality in stories, I want characters that I can recognize in real life, but I also want those characters to grow.  Sadly, there was no growth for Gabe in this story, and his mother and her ‘quick and easy’ approach to things was a horrible parenting example.

The synopsis would have you believing that Gabe’s choices are solely ones of necessity: needing to deal drugs and act selfishly because he has to make ends meet, support his family, provide options for later in life. But that just isn’t so – he’s addicted to the quick and easy: like his mother getting her bills paid by being a mistress to a married man, with little to no desire to move on.  Gabe likes the status and cache that being the “bad boy” brings in school and social interactions, and he really doesn’t look further forward.

Irina was the opportunity for Gabe to reach above the ‘all for flash’ approach to life.  Home-schooled and heavily influenced by her Russian born parents, Irina isn’t shallow and impressed with the flash and glamor – she wants real. And Gabe is only peripherally interested in depth – the moments of his own “choices” aren’t really geared to doing it right, but dong it quickly – which means becoming the “guy” for drugs for your party.  Getting the latest and greatest clothes yesterday are more important than the sustainability and sense of the how.  Of course Irina’s parents aren’t impressed: I wouldn’t be either.

I don’t agree that the quick and easy way was Gabe’s ONLY choice, he just was convinced it was the only way – and that, combined with a lack of real parental example from his rather disingenuous mother doesn’t bode well for him.  There is more to come, and perhaps he will ‘see the light’ with the example and friendship from Irina: he believes that he loves her and wants her – the question is will she want him.

There isn’t a cliffhanger per se, more that only half the story has been told, and it will take more to bring in a conclusion to this story.  I  am not certain that I am particularly interested in more: the choices and decisions in this don’t want me to find the two together, and I cannot find anything solid that would show me Gabe is capable of changing his life’s direction or giving up the easy route in favor of being real.

Betting Blind: Betting Blind #1 by Stephanie Guerra

Title: Betting Blind
Author: Stephanie Guerra
Genre: Teen Reads
Published by: Amazon Publishing, Skyscape
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 258
Audio Length: 6 Hours: 23 minutes
Rated: three-stars
Heat: One Flame

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Some risks are worth taking...

The cards are stacking up against Gabriel James: first there’s Phil, the guy paying the bills for Gabe’s mom (but not leaving his wife). Then there’s Gabe’s new school, filled with kids competing for the Ivies, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street—while Gabe’s just trying to swing enough Cs to graduate.

Gabe’s luck seems ready to change when he meets Irina Petrova: a hot violinist who is home-schooled by her strict Russian parents. When Gabe gets her number, he impresses the top guys at his school. When he becomes the drug connection for parties, his reputation is solidified. How else is he going to afford hanging with his new crew and impressing Irina? Anyway, it’s not really dealing if you’re just hooking up friends...right?

Gabe’s never been loyal to a girl before, but he finds himself falling for Irina hard. As the stakes are raised, Gabe will have to decide how high he’s willing to bet on school, on friends, on Irina—but most of all, on himself.

Mature content, ages 14 and up.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Stephanie Guerra

Stephanie Guerra is the winner of the 2014 Virginia Hamilton Essay Award for her contribution to the professional literature concerning multicultural literary experiences for youth. Her debut young adult novel, Torn, received a starred audiobook review from School Library Journal. Kirkus called her “a strong new voice” and Booklist praised her “complex characters.” Her first middle grade novel, Billy the Kid is Not Crazy, is on shelves now. Kirkus noted the “energy, wit and sensitivity” and “strong characterizations” in Billy. Stephanie teaches children’s literature and writing at Seattle University. She also teaches creative writing at King County Juvenile Detention and researches and speaks about literacy instruction for at-risk teens. Her next two novels for teens, Betting Blind and Out of Aces, will be out in 2014 and 2015. Her Zach and Lucy series for early readers, co-written with Jennifer Bradbury, will be out in 2016. Stephanie thanks Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and 4Culture for their generous support of her work. She lives in Seattle with her husband and children.



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