Parents' Guide to

Undercover Latina

By CatherineMarieB459, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Teen tracks White supremacist plot in intriguing spy tale.

Book cover: Latina teen escapes on skateboard

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This teen spy novel offers a solid exploration of Latino experiences of racism, colorism, and passing as White. Undercover Latina portrays different Latino experiences of racism, colorism, and the sometimes uncomfortable ability to pass as White. Main character Andréa uses her ability to pass in her spy work, but has to navigate the emotional and relational fallout. Author Aya De León has a racially and economically diverse cast of characters, although many White characters fit stereotypes, such as "mean girl" and "girl on a diet." The romantic relationships are a bit lackluster, based mostly on appearance and physical connection, but do have some good moments. The ideas about race and individuals' experiences regarding identity are widely relatable, and provide insight into many of the frustrations different people of color face.

The spy organization Andréa works for was created in response to the U.S. government's failure to deal with threats targeting people of color, specifically investigating known White supremacists. Some of the spy details fall a bit short, like only needing two years to build spy skills before leading a mission. And spies freely share information that would likely be classified. However, Andréa's spy work focuses more on her skills of observation and conversation over gadgets and slick spy moves. Which doesn't mean there aren't any fun action scenes -- there are a couple. Teens may appreciate her ability to think quickly as she overcomes challenges. Teens will also love the fictional game Triángulo, where players use magic to free 17th century enslaved people in the Caribbean. The game sounds so brilliant, your kids might go looking for the cards. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist, maybe someday. Overall, Undercover Latina is a fun read that shines a light on the nuanced experiences of people who can pass.

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