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Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco

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Holly Hernandez, voted "Miss Bright of '79" and valedictorian at her previous school, is excited to start fresh at Flatbush Technical High School, one of the most competitive public schools in New York City. She'll be one of thousands; anonymous. But her dreams of a normal school life disappear when her mother, a homicide detective, has to investigate the murder of Mr. Friedman, the social studies teacher. One of her classmates, Xander Herrera, quickly becomes the primary suspect. The tall, awkward boy is socially inept, but Holly doesn't think he's a murderer. She is intent on exonerating him but he wants nothing to do with her. To Xander, Holly is the overly enthusiastic student who always sits in the front row and answers all the teachers' questions correctly. He hates perky people! Eventually cleared of the crime, Xander is determined to find the killer before Holly. As they race to solve the case, their separate investigations lead to a slew of suspects, including another teacher seen arguing with Friedman and a mysterious person named Steve who met with him several times before his death. Could it have been a disgruntled student? Ultimately, a trophy for a disco-dancing contest leads the intrepid young detectives to the Mission Venus nightclub and a murderer intent on killing again!

248 pages, Paperback

First published May 31, 2020

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About the author

Richie Narvaez

30 books64 followers

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5 stars
39 (57%)
4 stars
17 (25%)
3 stars
6 (8%)
2 stars
3 (4%)
1 star
3 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Profile Image for Deborah.
35 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2020
So much fun!

I loved this book and can’t wait fir the next one. I really like the two points of view - Holly's and Xander's - and how differently they view the same scenes.
I felt the story really captured well the ups and downs of high school as well as the feel if the seventies. The mystery was plausible, and I enjoyed watching Holly and Xander approaching the mystery from two very opposing angles.
Fun fast read - highly recommended!
Profile Image for Gabriel Valjan.
Author 30 books221 followers
August 9, 2020
Moody boy meets bright girl, and poverty meets privilege, and both boy and girl are compelled to solve a murder-mystery, set in late-70s Brooklyn. Readers are off to a page-turning adventure, told from two nuanced points of view—gender and class, and in for some laughs, twists and turns, while learning about life, back in the not so politically correct day. Narvaez entertains and educates about the ups and downs of music and life, with a slant towards Latinx culture, yet proving that high school has always been an awkward rite of passage. The story will please and challenge readers with the pop references and vocabulary, which the author has annotated in the back of the book. As a reader “of a certain age” I enjoyed the trip and hope to see a second Holly and Xander mystery.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
54 reviews
April 9, 2023

Holly Hernandez is a Puerto Rican freshman at Flatbush Technical High School, one of the best schools in the area. She has her fears which is normal as she transitions to high school. However, her situation takes an unexpected turn when one of her teachers is mysteriously found dead, throat sliced but nothing robbed. Holly’s sense of justice leads her to find the clues and the motivations behind her teacher's killer.

The book was neat in that we had an alternating dual POV throughout the story. Xander Herrera is the other side of the story we are given. In the story we see he doesn't particularly like Holly's bubbly personality which is the antithesis of his antisocial vibe. He is equally bright as Holly and makes Holly his rival. This motivation, along with him at first being wrongfully accused of the crime, drives him to solve the case on his own. The mystery was intriguing to see how two different people with their methods reach the same conclusions at times. The supporting cast was decent but Holly and Xander’s characters were interesting on their own that I wished was explored more. There are breadcrumb clues and a poem that allude to Holly’s dad being shot. We don't really see how that has affected Holly and Holly's mom until we are reminded of it almost close to the end of the book. Xander felt more fleshed out but there were events in the book that could have dissected more of his personality and interactions with people. Small spoiler, he does spend a weekend at prison that felt glossed over yet later on we can see it did have an effect on his character.

Richie Narvaez wrote with the intention of teenagers being the main audience but honestly it shouldn't deter older adults. I would imagine adults who were teenangers in 1979 may feel more nostalgia especially if you were a hispanic in brooklyn in 1979. The book did leave me wanting more things like digging deeper into characters, more disco history and hispanic perspective during this time. It made me ponder on the young adult genre. Should a book written for “young adults” or teenagers sacrifice character for plot? Should the pacing be quick and not feel like a slow burn? Should heavy themes be repressed as much as possible? Or does the genre simply mean that the characters are high school/early college age?

Richie Narvaez wrote this as his idea for a Puerto Rican Nancy Drew in Brooklyn. He succeeded in creating a fun fast paced mystery that has a Hispanic influence/vibe. Narvaez could have taken his time with some of the characters and created a more vibrant image of 1979. Although the disco scenes were pretty cool and made me want to listen to the bee gees. Solid book that accomplished Narvaez’s goal yet had potential for more. Although this was as fun as a scooby doo mystery, I wouldn't mind reading more about Holly and Xander solving mysteries in this time period.
Profile Image for Karen (BaronessBookTrove).
922 reviews87 followers
October 20, 2020
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy from the Great Escapes Book Tours. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richie Narvaez is about two genius kids trying to outwit each other and solve a case.
Who will solve the case first? Holly or Xander?
Holly Hernandez and Xander Herrera
Holly Hernandez and Xander Herrera are our two main characters and sleuths. She is the daughter of a police detective and the daughter of a scientist. Holly is a smart kid but sometimes not so smart on blurting things that make no sense. This is how this rivalry started between these two. I like about Holly because she is starting at a new school for high school, where she is trying to make friends even if that is hard. There is a lot to like about her and not really a lot to dislike about her.

Xander Herrera is only in this mess because of Holly falsely accusing him. He is a strange kid who doesn't talk but grunts and doesn't participate in class. Xander has had a hard life, and sometimes to make up for it, he pulls pranks, but that doesn't mean killer. I like this character a bit because he is intelligent and trying to do a lot better than his own mother did for him. He is also trying to show people that he isn't like the stereotype that they place him under. 

Holly is the studious one that likes to participate in classes and is preppy. Xander is studious, but he doesn't really want to participate in classes since he was made fun of it in his last school. These two characters are so different from each other but also the same in some ways.
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco CRThe Mystery
Their social studies teacher was killed during the day and by someone that he knew. That leaves a lot of suspects for these two teenage sleuths but the cops as well. Xander and Holly have two very different reasons for solving this mystery while also having one in common. To find justice for their teacher despite the reasonings for why they are trying to solve a mystery, they have no real reason for solving. It just goes deeper the more that they are investigating and turning up clues. I was honestly stumped until the sleuths were solving it each on their own, then it clicked. 
4 Stars
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richie Narvaez are worthy of four stars and a recommendation. I enjoyed this book a lot, and I loved almost everything about it. The one thing that drove me a bit insane and took me out was when Daniel Calara would talk in song lyrics that I had no clue where song lyrics, created by the author himself, until the end of the book. It took me out of the book as I tried to figure out what the context was between what he said and what I just read. Other than that, I loved the story and how everything fits in with the title of the book.

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Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed this review of Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richie Narvaez. Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Until the next time,

Karen Signature

Happy Reading!

This review was originally posted on Baroness' Book Trove

Profile Image for IE Latinx Book y Chisme Club.
29 reviews6 followers
July 31, 2021
July’s book took us back to the 1970’s with Holly Hernandez And The Death Of Disco by Richie Narvaez. The book follows Holly Hernandez and her school rival, Xander Herrera, after the murder of their social studies teacher who was also a disco enthusiast.
While Holly initially accused Xander of the crime, she seeks to make amends by finding the person responsible for the deaths. Xander, cleared of the charges, separately searches for answers in an effort to dissolve any lingering suspicion toward him and beat Holly to the solution. The characters provide detailed descriptions of their discoveries and the ending is a fast paced race to stop the murder from killing again.
We definitely enjoyed this book and think crime fiction fans will especially like it. The details really help to set the 70’s scene, from the records to the clothing trends. It peaked our interest to find out more about the disco era and the significance it carried as a subculture within the Latinx community. We discussed music, class and privilege, adolescence, and nightclubs. We decided on 4.5/5 stars for the book!

Review Written by: Teresa Luna, IE Latinx Book y Chisme Club
Instagram: @ielatinxbookychismeclub | @lunadelareina
Profile Image for Paulette.
1,224 reviews18 followers
January 4, 2022
An unusual YA mystery novel set in the 80s that actually has a couple of dead bodies plus two talented but geeky teenagers who at first are at odds with each but learn to work together to solve the crime. The other appealing aspect of this author is his use of rich vocabulary including a word heading each chapter (annotation list at the end of the book) that was fun to connect its meaning with the plot action.

Winner of the Agatha Award and the Anthony Award - Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Lupe.
1,237 reviews
March 24, 2021
There were some things I liked about this book but some of it irked me: incorrect grammar/spelling in some places, phrasing that is current but not in sync with the time period of the book, etc. I think Narvaez has some good ideas - I'm eager to see what is next.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,184 reviews30 followers
September 10, 2021
I couldn't finish it. Got 2/3 of the way but I just had a very hard time caring about literally any of the characters. They acted in such incongruous ways, for instance: Holly is very meticulous and calculated, but bursts out "he's the killer!" at a character she knows little about, at a crime scene she has literally JUST walked onto.
792 reviews
June 13, 2021
Not bad, but I wouldn't give it the Agatha award. Good characterization. Someone needs to proof the text. Wrong words in some sentences make the reader figure out the meaning.
Profile Image for Paula.
79 reviews6 followers
September 7, 2021
Such a fun read: a great YA for the young and not so young. Highly recommended.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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