Monday, August 1, 2011
I took some time this weekend to do some more reading. I love those rare days when I can sit and read most of the time. I read Bettina Restrepo's first YA novel (she had written a children's book a few years ago). ILLEGAL (Katherine Tegen Books 2011) is told in a series of short chapters that function almost as vignettes as readers meet Nora, a teen living in Mexico. Her father has gone off to Houston to work and, hopefully, send money home to the family grapefruit orchard. But weeks pass since the family has last had word (or monies) from Dad, and Nora and her Mother undertake a dangerous trip across the border aided by a coyote (one who preys on illegal immigrants). They arrive in Houston barely alive but determined to find Father. What they learn about America, about how illegals are treated, and about the fate of Father is a compelling read that draws the reader into the book and into the heart and mind of Nora. <355>
The writing is strong here. The language is at once lyrical and strong with verbs propelling the action forward. This examination of the immigrant experience through the eyes of a teen is one that reluctant readers will appreciate (for the short chapters) and avid readers will as well (for the incredible use of language). There are precious few books with Hispanic main characters. Here is one to offer to readers that can open their eyes and minds to what one suffers to come to a new country and survive.