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(HarperCollins Publishers, 2017)

Marcos Rivas yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood, away from his indifferent mom and her abusive boyfriend—which seems impossible.

When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program, he meets Zach and Amy, whose friendship inspires Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.

The Closest I’ve Come is a story about traversing real and imagined boundaries, about discovering new things in the world, and about discovering yourself, too.

"The Closest I've Come is an unflinching portrayal of boyhood and the seemingly impossible circumstances so many young people face. Aceves demonstrates a deft ear in depicting the trials and tribulations, and yes, triumphs, with which Marcos Rivas and his boys contend. You'll be rooting for them to beat the odds page after page." - Elizabeth Acevedo, bestselling author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High

“A brilliant, subtle debut.” - Sonia Patel, author of Morris Award finalist Rani Patel in Full Effect and Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story

★ “Heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

★ “[A] memorable, hard-hitting portrait of a teenager trying to shape his own destiny after being dealt a difficult hand.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Aceves has written a remarkable debut novel....[E]very reader will enjoy Aceves’s deft handling of this coming-of-age journey. The Closest I’ve Come will be a welcome addition to the growing cannon of quality urban young adult literature.” - Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

“A story that will have readers cheering by the end. An inspirational read.” - Booklist

“Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and for readers who appreciate gritty and introspective realistic fiction with a sense of humor.” - School Library Journal

“It takes about half a page of this debut to become convinced Aceves is an author to watch, but there’s no point at which you’ll want to put down his strongly voiced coming-of-age, perfect for fans of When I Was the Greatest.” - B&N Teen Blog

“A debut that’s as stunning as it is powerful, Aceves’ novel is a story is a complex story about family and friendships. Don’t sleep on this one.” - Paste Magazine

“Effective, and there’s a refreshing subversion of literary expectation... The accessible writing brings this story to a wide range of readers.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“[E]xplores the nuances of class and ethnicity through the eyes of a hero that readers will love rooting for.” -

TNDE book cover.jpg


(HarperCollins Publishers, 2020)

David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again the fall.

Soon, David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As it says on the Iron Life wall, what does not kill me makes me stronger.

As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything.

“A much-needed novel about steroid addiction from the point of view of a high school boy who’s the victim of bullying.” -School Library Journal (starred review)

“Stands out through its examination of toxic masculinity, body image, and the dangers of pursuing perfection.” - Booklist

"Searing and thoughtful." Kirkus Reviews

“An authentically told story that is both gripping and gut-wrenching.” - Publishers Weekly


"Powerful, raw, and honest. A gripping and realistic tale of body image and toxic masculinity." - Adi Alsaid, author of Let's Get Lost

“Aceves’ novel addresses harsher details of steroid and muscle-sculpting drugs.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Book no.1
Book no.2
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