Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Review: Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same by Mattox Roesch

"You Got Trouble?"

Go-boy says, "No, we're just waiting."

The guy looks up and down the slough for signs of something to wait for. I look with him. He glances around the open fields in front of his truck, then turns in his seat and looks back at the village. There is nothing happening anywhere. He asks, "For what?"

I am wondering the same thing. Go stares through the windshield, straight down the road and back into town, maybe running through a list of possible names to give me, maybe not. A kid on a bike rolls across the gravel where it curves between two homes. On the left side is a row of dogs who've appeared, sitting on top of their little plywood houses, ugly dogs, watching us.

Go turns back to the guy in his truck, says, "We're waiting to find out."
[pgs 27-28]

Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same
by Mattox Roesch
Unbridled Books, 2009
Fiction; 336 pgs

Gangs are a reality, and, for Cesar, they are a way of life. His older brother is serving a life sentence for murdering two teenagers, and Cesar would have landed in the cell next to Wicho if their mother had not decided to move home to Alaska, taking 17 year old Cesar with her. Unalakleet couldn't be more different than Southern California. It is a small village where everyone knows just about everyone. There are no gangs and the crime rate is extremely low. Life seems to be much less complicated there.

Cesar's cousin, Go-boy, takes Cesar under his wing the minute Cesar stepped off the plane. Go-boy is confidant Cesar will stay in Alaska despite Cesar's determination that he will return to Los Angeles at the end of the summer. The novel is narrated by Cesar as he gets acclimated to his new life in Alaska. He takes an instant liking to Go-boy's stepsister, Kiana, and she to him. However, their relationship is a complicated one, neither being sure what they want from the other, if anything at all.

Although Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same is about Cesar coming into his own as he struggles with guilt for his part in a heinous crime while at the same time adjusting to life in Alaska, Go-boy steals the show. His initial optimism and belief in people touches everyone he comes in contact with, including Cesar. As the novel unfolds, it becomes clear that Go-boy has many more layers than it may first appear. Cesar, who is so much in his own head and dealing with his own issues, does not see the trouble his cousin is in right away.

Go-boy has an optimism and innocence about him that drew me straight to him. He believed that the world was destined for good things and went out of his way to try and make his part of the world a better place in his own unique way. Go-boy stood for hope. He was a light in Cesar's dark world and it was no wonder Cesar took to Go-boy so easily. It is Go-boy that helps Cesar through some of his most difficult moments. Even so, Go-boy is struggling with his own problems. He has mood swings and often disappears for days on end without notice. His own family is in crisis, facing tragedy and uncertainty. My heart ached for Go-boy.

There were moments when I wish the author would have explored some of the minor characters more. I was especially curious about Cesar's relationship with his mother and would like to have delved more deeply into that. Being that the story is told from 17 year old Cesar's point of view and that his world view centers around himself and Go-boy, it may not have been a direction the author felt necessary to go.

I like Mattox Roesch's writing style and the way he weaves the past with the present. I felt like I truly was in Cesar's head, seeing the world through his eyes. He wasn't always an easy character to like. Overall, I enjoyed the time I spent reading Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same. Although at the end I did not feel that Cesar made huge strides in resolving his issues, he certainly was headed in the right direction. Being that he's only 17 going on 18, that's really all a person can expect.

Rating: * (Good +)

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: ARC Challenge, New Authors Challenge & 2009 Pub Challenge

Be sure to check the author's website. Many thanks to Caitlin with Unbridled Books for the opportunity to read this novel and participate in the blog tour.

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. You really have to love it for the title, eh? I'm glad to hear it measured up. This one had all kinds of potential. Great review!

  2. I really liked your review of this book. It sounds very interesting and different from many of the books out here. I'm definitely going to put this one on my list....and not for the title alone! lol

  3. I just skimmed your review because I have this one here to read and I hate to be influenced!

    But I'm glad you thought it was good -- that makes me more interested in reading it.

  4. Sandy - Thanks! The title is catchy, isn't it?

    Amy - Thank you! It really is a different book than what I've come across recently. I hope you will like it if you read it!

    Beth - I look forward to reading your thoughts on it, Beth.

  5. Wendy, I always enjoy reading your reviews. You give complete details and reasons for your thinking and opinions. Glad to see you enjoyed this one, it sounds like something I may like as well!

  6. This book sounds really good to me. When I was in high school, books about gangs held a real fascination for me.

  7. Very interesting book and out of the ordinary (for me, anyway). Thanks for the head's up!!

    Hope your back is feeling better, too (saw that on another blog).

  8. I don't think I've heard of this book before, but thanks for your lovely review! BTW, I love the title! ;)

  9. I had to read that title twice to catch it. When I see a book like that, I always figure I'll immediately love or hate it, based on whether I can buy into quirky characters or not. Sounds like this one is worthwhile!

  10. As always, I enjoy reading your book reviews, Wendy. Keep it up!

  11. I just finished reading the author's post at worducopia. And now I want to read this one just to experience Unalakleet and small town life.

  12. You quoted one of my favorite passages!! I'm still reading, but I'm really enjoying it. I'll come back and read the rest soon. :)

  13. Kristie - Thank you, Kristie! I try to get across why I feel a certain way about a book. Sometimes it isn't so easy.

    Kathy - Gangs are a culture all to themselves. They really are be an interesting study.

    Clea - It was a bit out of the ordinary for me too. :-)

    Thanks for the well wishes. My back is doing a lot better. I just have to remember to take it easy for awhile.

    Melody - Isn't the title great?

  14. Kim - I know what you mean. I do like quirky, but if it's too strange, I tend not to get it.

    Alice - Thank you, Alice!

    Jill (Softdrink) - I'll have to head over there to read the author's post. Thanks for the head's up!

    Amy (MyFriendAmy) - I was a little worried it was too long to quote, but it's best in context. I can't wait to read your thoughts on this one, Amy.

  15. Great review! I'd not heard of this book but it sounds interesting. I think a character like Go-boy is one not to be passed up! :)

  16. I've been hearing good things about this one but didn't know what it was about. Thanks!

  17. Iliana - Thank you! Go-boy was definitely an interesting character and one worth getting to know.

    J.T. - It wasn't quite what I expected, but it was good nonetheless.

  18. I love the title and I love the premise of the book. It sounds like you really enjoyed it.

  19. Rebecca - I really like the title too. :-)

  20. This one looks really interesting. For some reason I like books that take place in Alaska. Not sure why, but I've accepted it.

  21. Stacy - I haven't read too many books set in Alaska, but it does sound like an interesting place to read about. I'm sure I'll find my way back there. :-)


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