A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Marisol puts a relatable face on the story of the thousands of young people fleeing violence in Central America. Reading about her life in El Salvador and the violence that surrounded her and her family will give readers an understanding of why so many people are willing to risk everything for a chance at a better life.
Even in the darkest grief and despair, hope can be found.
Positive Role Models
Marisol is fearless and determined. She keeps herself and her sister, Gabi, safe on the journey to the border. Once in the United States, she doesn't hesitate when offered a chance (with big risk attached) to stay in the country.
Violence & Scariness
Flashbacks tell how Marisol and Rey's brothers died and why a man was shot and killed (never in graphic detail). In El Salvador, Marisol is threatened when it's discovered that she's sexually attracted to another girl.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two teen girls share kisses.
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Some profanity scattered throughout ("f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "f--got").
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that in Alexandra Villasante's novel The Grief Keeper, 17-year-old Marisol and her 12-year-old sister, Gabi, have fled their home in El Salvador and made the perilous journey to the United States border. They're now in a detention camp in Pennsylvania waiting to hear if their request for asylum will be granted. Just as Marisol is beginning to lose hope, a woman from the U.S. government makes her a remarkable offer. If she agrees to test an experimental medical device for one month, she and her sister will be able to stay in the country. The device is designed to transfer grief from a person suffering from a terrible emotional trauma to another person who will become their "grief keeper." Marisol expects to be paired with someone like a soldier with PTSD, but finds herself the grief keeper for Rey, a white girl her own age who comes from a wealthy, well-connected family. There's some profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "goddamn"), and flashbacks tell how Marisol and Rey's brothers died, but never in graphic detail.
Is It Any Good?
Readers hoping for a spine-tingling page-turner are likely to be disappointed, but those wanting to learn more about the plight of young undocumented immigrants will be rewarded. The Grief Keeper is an unusual mix of the refugee experience, LGBTQ issues, and elements of science fiction that could help spark conversations between teens and parents about the role of immigrants (including those in their own families) in American history and how Americans should respond as a nation to those seeking new lives in the U.S.
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Our Editors Recommend
Kids' Books About the Immigrant Experience
Books with Latino Characters
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