I think the author really did an excellent job describing the setting of Monterrey Bay, I did not think she really developed her main character Carlito as well. I teach stories with well developed main characters such as Matilda by Roald Dahl, A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck, and Holes by Louis Sachar. In these stories the characters drive the plot. I don't think this story has been character driven.
I like the fact the story is based on true events. This makes the story easier to internalize and makes the problems that Carlito encounters more personal for the reader.