A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Don't Ask Me Where I'm From is a coming-of-ager with a lot of positive Latinx representation in the main characters and a diverse group of supporting characters. It tells the story of Liliana, a high-school sophomore and first-generation American who finds out she's been accepted into a program that will transfer her fom her gritty Boston neighborhood.neighborhood to a wealthy, white, suburban high school 20 miles away, and she feels conflicted about it. Infrequent strong language includes "s--t," "f--king" and"bitch," and a group discussion mentions using "nigga." A memory of a past violent incident involving a drunk man mentions a lot of blood when a child falls through a glass table, but there's no gore or detail. It's implied that a teen was hit by her grandmother from overheard yelling and crying, and the teen later appearing with a swollen face. Aside from the drunk man, the only other mention of alcohol is a memory of adults drinking beer at parties. A character remembers their mother's past drug use and mention that a neighbor is a drug addict. Parental absence and fear of loss is a prominent theme. Overall messages are positive about dealing with barriers and seeing people as individuals rather than skin colors. Lots of food for thought about immigration, identity, opportunities, barriers, and more.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DON'T ASK ME WHERE I'M FROM tells the story of Liliana, a high-school sophomore and first-generation American from a gritty Boston neighborhood. Just as the new school year begins, she finds out she's been accepted into a program that will transfer her to a wealthy, white, suburban high school 20 miles away. The list of reasons not to join the program is as long as the daily bus ride will be, but Liliana's mother won't let her pass up the opportunities the richer school can provide. Her father's also been gone for a long time, with no explanation, so making ends meet and taking care of two younger siblings doesn't make things any easier. When Liliana learns the truth about her father, she starts to take a hard look at who she is, where she belongs, what's in her way, and how to get around anything blocking her path.
Is it any good?
Author Jennifer De Leon's debut novel is an engaging and thought-provoking story that will get readers thinking about lots of important personal, political, and cultural issues. Readers of color will find a lot of positive representation, and all teens will find plenty to relate to in Liliana and her experiences. Don't Ask Me Where I'm From inspires empathy and encourages getting to know people as individuals instead of types or skin colors by emphasizing that no single group's experience or background is the same for everyone in that group.
The story contains few surprises and sometimes the plot slows a bit or seems a bit repetitive. But teens will relate to Liliana and her friends, and hopefully be inspired not just to pursue their dreams but to put in the hard work it takes to learn something new and make a difference. And of course to appreciate and empathize with others' life experiences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Don't Ask Me Where I'm From portrays Liliana. What makes her a positive role model? What are her character strengths and weaknesses?
What about the strong language? Is it realistic? Does that make a difference? How much is too much in books, videos, games, moves?
Why is it important for books and other media to have racially diverse characters? How does it affect how you see yourself and how you see others?
- Author: Jennifer De Leon
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
- Publication date: August 4, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 31, 2020
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