By Peter Bacho
Pleasure Book Studio
Fiction – Young Adult
Growing up in the 60s in Seattle, Washington is a special challenge especially when you are a biracial
teenager living in the projects and your older brother just died in the Vietnam War. Bobby Vincente
was different from his older brother in that he was the pretty one, the one who was sent to a private
school, the one who just didn’t fight and preferred the quiet life of reading rather than fighting.
Being the surviving son living alone with a father who recently lost his wife to cancer, enabled Bobby to
develop his cooking abilities. Dad though missed his favorite son who was most liked him. The
deceased son was the one who would fight for Bobby, protecting him, teaching him to be a man.
Naturally, now that no one can defend Bobby, his father decided it was time for him to learn
how to box. Surprisingly though, Bobby was a natural. He appeared thin and weak, but quickly he
discovered that he was a fast sparring partner who threw a powerful punch.
In order to stay out of the draft, Bobby hopes to attend the local community college but first he has to
pass his test for his GED. Then he discovers the love of his life, or so he believes.
Much of this novel involves Bobby’s communication with his brother who seems to be a ghost intruding
on Bobby’s life and guiding him lovingly towards success. These events were what added a sense of
personal depth of each character. This bizarre communication with ghostly dreams is
what makes this special and allows the characters to show care for each other.
Peter Bacho has won a variety of awards including an American Book Award for CEBU, a Washington
Governor’s Writers Award, and The Murray Morgan Prize. He is proud of his heritage as a Filipino
American writer and expresses this through the character of Bobby. He teachers at The Evergreen State
College in Tacoma, Washington.
LEAVING YESLER is about dreaming and allowing the dreams to be motivating by being open to changes
that you never imagined. The story is hypnotic and engrossing. This is one of those novels that you
can’t put down. Ideally the readership should be upper high school readers through adults. Everyone
deserves a chance to enjoy and live through Bobby Vincente.