The House of the Scorpion
by Nancy Farmer
Fidelito is only eight years old, and he has a spectacularly bad time in the custody of the Keepers. We mean it: this kid can't win. He wets the bed, he doesn't get enough food because he doesn't work "hard" enough, he gets motion sickness, he has trouble keeping up with the older boys, and he nearly gets beaten to death by Jorge. It's a hard-knock life and then some.
Things weren't great for Fidelito before he came to the orphanage either. He lived with his grandmother, but their home was destroyed by a hurricane and they were placed in a refugee camp run by Keepers. Fidelito and his grandmother tried to escape, but his grandmother was captured in Dreamland and Fidelito was sent to the orphanage. And this is all before the ripe old age of eight.
Fidelito Comes Through in a Fix
You might think all these struggles would make Fidelito tough and hard, but the kid is actually extremely good natured, friendly, and sweet. He latches on to Matt quite quickly, which makes sense when you learn that in Spanish, fidelito means "little faithful one."
Despite his youth, Fidelito can totally step up to the plate when the occasion calls for it. He more than earns his name when Matt ends up in a dicey situation during their escape to San Luis. When Matt has an asthma attack, quick-thinking Fidelito brings help, and fast. Clearly he's the kind of kid you want having your back. We bet he'll grow up to be one cool dude.