Somewhat Intense, Emotional, But Heartwarming Book
First off, I want to say this book is very emotional. Strong emotions are being portrayed to the point where at some points, I almost cried from the sadness of their situation. Even though the ending was somewhat happy, the events along the way are traumatic and not for any kid under 11 unless they are extremely mature. But the book does point out an important issue that needs to be addressed by the government and the our society. That said, let me jump into the review:
This book was written to teach about how illegal immigration was an issue and to present that illegal immigrants are people just like the rest of us. The main character, Tyler, becomes good friends with Mari, the oldest Cruz daughter. The Cruzes have a lot of struggles, such as the loss of their mother. While they were illegally crossing the border, the people who helped them, referred to as coyotes, kidnapped their mother. The main family disobeys the law against using illegal immigrants as workers, but says it is "right in God's eyes" and teaches that it is OK to do something against the law as long as it is morally right, which can be questioned by some.
Some sexual content: A woman is kidnapped by men. Their uncle worked as a bouncer at a bar.
This book can be extremely sad at points, such as when Mari and her family are teased because of their immigration or when their mom is missing for more than a year. There are some intense moments that will make sensitive kids feel upset, such as the arrest of a close relative. The threat of police deporting them or locking them up was constant throughout the book.
Illegal immigration is a sensitive topic, but I feel like Ms. Alvarez does an amazing job portraying it in a young adult novel that addresses the issue without unnecessary sexual content, violence, or intensity but at the same time avoids sugar coating it and making it look "not too bad." I think this is a must-read for all teens and some mature tweens to show how the pressing issue of illegal immigration does not only exist in the political world but also has a very real presence in our society.
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