Alex Karola, a writer of young adult fiction who teaches high school in Mesa, Arizona, lives near the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
In Freedom, her debut novel, violence and revenge are the law of the land for the boys of Valhalla, a gang-ruled suburb south of Los Angeles.
Devastated by the death of his father, Navajo teenager Stevie Washington leaves his home on the reservation for this dangerous new world of cholos, lowriders, and retaliation. Here, Stevie works to build a new life playing street soccer with a group of misfits led by unpredictable social outcast Freedom Richards.
After gangs take over their soccer park, Stevie’s new friends try out for their high school’s prestigious varsity soccer team. For Stevie, it’s a way to honor his father’s memory and prove he’s not just some troubled kid from the rez. Standing in their way are powerful and popular Aaron Gonzalez and his group of wealthy friends the barrio boys call “fresas.” When fierce rivalry off the field escalates to tragedy, Stevie realizes his true test is to master the inner rage and unforgiveness that threaten to destroy him.