Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Reyna Grande’s memoir, originally published in 2012, has been modified for a young audience. It is the story of the author’s impoverished childhood in rural Mexico, and her parents’ efforts to provide a better life for their children. Grande and her siblings are shunted between grandmothers as her father, and then her mother, leave them to make the dangerous journey illegally to “El Otro Lado.” She describes being the poorest of the poor, enduring hunger, deprivation and then grief as her parents flee for a better life. At the same time, she notices the beauty around her and realizes how much she wants to read and learn. When she makes it over the border with her father, life begins again as an illegal immigrant. The reader sees her go from a scared eight year old ESL leaner to a star writer and student. Her relationship with her beloved sister Mago and her efforts to please her increasingly abusive father make this a rich and complex saga of family and immigration. Includes photos. The author describes her life with clarity and poetry and now I want to read her novels.
To whom would you recommend this book? This is a compelling real life story which would be a great addition to curricula on immigration. I would also hand it to kids who like gritty realistic fiction, because it flows like a story.
Who should buy this book? Middle school and public libraries, especially where there is an interest in theMexican-American experience.
Where would you shelve it ? Biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: January 10, 2017