Bait by Alex Sanchez is a novel about a teenage boy named Diego Macmann at 16, who is now going through court and probation after being charged with assault. He has the shortest temper you will ever see and just resorts to throwing his fist whenever feeling intimidated. Many therapist and anger-management classes have tried providing a solution to Diego’s anger.
But all have failed. Mr.Vidas , Diego’s probation officer, tends to dive deep with Diego’s true emotions and his motivations. Eventually creating a close bond and somewhat of a father figure which Diego has never had. Many thoughts and Diego’s true emotions with Vidas are revealed.
Questions are asked like how does he feel about the suicide of his stepfather? The biological father which he has never known? The anger that he gets whenever around LGBT people? Bait has been challenged a few times to be taken out of middle school but I think it should definitely stay. Even though many vulgar topics are shown, Diego’s process of recovering and taking his life back is what Sanchez really wanted his readers to understand. Middle School students can see the benefits from this, giving them hope in seeing someone like Diego that may be experiencing similar things, creating more of an inspiration to read about and not a negative exposure to kids. Throughout the book, Sanchez definitely thought about how a character like Diego would react and grow up following abuse and suicide. His self-harm and negative past isn’t the main focus of the novel, but is more of a bad nightmare which turned a new side in how we see Diego.
Anger and emotion still come at him at random times, triggering those past memories. The cutting and the history of sexual assault in such a young child makes us speechless and hard to believe. Mental scars are shown in Diego as well, he now sees gay people as more of sexual predators than human beings and is reluctant in reaching out to others for help, that is what cuts deep. Sanchez does this for a reason though. Diego is a character that is meant to show teenage boys that they are not lost among the girls when it comes to being victims of sexual abuse. He’s also there to show them that their lives can go on and they can deal with the anger and the depression in good ways.
Diego was let of with a warning by the judge after being pressed charged with after punching a classmate. But the surprising event was he volunteered himself to be put on probation. This was shown on page.57 paragraphs.6-11 with the judge returning his gaze to Diego after asking about probation, then Judge Ferrara asked,”And what makes you think you should be on probation?” Diego thought carefully about how he might make the judge understand.”Because,” Diego said. “My anger is dealing with me and I don’t know how to handle it..
.your honor. Why does he do this? Because Diego knew he needed help and reach out to others and these events of him lashing out needs to stop. He grows well throughout the novel, and I was really interested in what he had to say with his story.
He ends it no longer lost, but connected to his family and himself, and that’s something huge, especially to our younger generations who can relate to when it comes to abuse and suicide. Any book that has to do with depression and not just Bait, can provide young teens with information and perspective that help them with things to do. The key to overcoming depression is action. Bait provides a realistic story that can give any young teen who reads hope and compassion. 2%-3% of children between the age of 6-12 and 6%-8% of teens in the United States suffer from some form of depression. That equivalates to 2.8 million adolescents. It has been a known fact for a long time that the concept of reading can cure mental illnesses.
When it comes to types of depressions, a slight shift of thought that goes in a positive way can cure it so quickly. So that means a book with a story of someone overcoming his emotions and unraveling himself becoming free emotionally, very well could be apart of that process. Even the language use you see by Sanchez brings his point across very easily of the underlying idea. An example would be on page.215 paragraph.4 with Diego saying, “I feel good..
.weird…like I’ve been holding my breath underwater for years and I’m finally surfacing.” In other words, just changing the way you think can go a long way, and that slight bit of hope that a reader could get from reading Bait and any other book that they are able to relate to might even be able to lower that percentage down. Not everybody would agree as I do on Bait with its underlying message.
Some even going to such extreme measures and try to strip it off every school library bookshelf. Ones that are challenging Bait, see the vulgar topics as more of a bad influence and terrible exposure towards young teens and adolescents. Multiple occasions in the book show descriptive scenes of Diego cutting himself with a shark tooth, him being molested, suicide attempts, and many other things. But again, all of these were put into the book for a reason by Sanchez. Others are thinking these obscene parts in the book are just inducing young teens to “participate” and exposes them into a darker hole.
But this “dark hole” is actually reality and is what’s going on in our society right now, especially with our younger generations. 1 in 12 teenagers in the US engage in self harming. But Bait isn’t some made up world which Alex Sanchez wrote about a young boy being raped, but it is a story that zooms in the everyday life of how it affected one teen. One story out of 63,000 children a year which have been sexually assaulted. Hiding this problem from the rest of our world does not help, we need to address it in every way possible. The news, television, social media, and even books.
But yet, there are those trying to take books like Bait and hundreds of other books of every shelf preventing those from reading it. Our younger generation these days are more exposed and are victims of very horrible things. Each year the rate of mental illnesses, drug use, suicide, sexual assault all go up, and the list can go on forever. Creating safe spaces, distractions, inspiration, and just a little bit of hope can go a very long way and cuts deep in those which need it. Books are just one thing that can go on a huge list of solutions that adolescents have access to when needing any of those things. Bait by Alex Sanchez may not be a worldwide campaign to spread awareness on sexual assault or depression. But keeping it one those library bookshelves, there is still a chance it could help one person in a time of need and give them enough hope to reach out to others…and that’s something huge.