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review 2017-03-24 02:41
Becoming Naomi Leon - review
Becoming Naomi León - Pam Muñoz Ryan

One of her favorite sayings was that the good and the bad of any situation were sometimes the same.

 

My thoughts dived into a jumble in the middle of my mind, wrestled around until they were wadded into a fisted knot, and attached themselves to my brain like a burr matted in a long-haired dog.

 

I always thought the biggest problem in my life was my name, Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw, but little did I know that it was the least of my troubles, or that someday I would live up to it.

 

 

When Naomi was 4 and her brother was 1, their mother left them with their grandmother. Seven years later, the mother (Skyla) shows up on their doorstep wanting to "get to know her children". But, she has other motives. A chain of events sends Naomi, Owen, and Gram on a trip to Mexico where Naomi discovers more about her Mexican heritage and finds something unexpected.

 

This is a lovely story. The characters are likable. I enjoyed reading about Naomi's journey and how she reasoned things out in her head. Her devotion to her brother is admirable. She doesn't let anyone stop her when she needs something. 

 

The book is culturally authentic and contains many examples of Spanish words and Mexican culture. Readers, especially girls, will enjoy reading about Naomi's determination and her adventures. The ending doesn't take the easy way out and is pretty realistic, as opposed to being too perfect and happy. 

 

 

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review 2017-03-19 04:47
Something in Between - Melissa de la Cruz

 

Danny and Isko are pretty much 100 percent American. It’s as if my parents are first-generation immigrants and they’re second generation. But I’m stuck somewhere between both of them, trying to figure out how to help them understand each other.

 

I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong? I’m not American. I’m not a legal resident. I don’t even have a green card.

I’m nothing. Nobody.

Illegal.

 

Jasmine is a senior in high school. She is cheer captain, honor roll, volunteer and now a National Scholarship Award winner. The award includes four years of college tuition. Jasmine is so excited to tell her parents, but they don’t react as she expects. Turns out her parents’ work visas expired and they weren’t unable to get new ones. Instead of going back to the Philippines, her parents kept the family in the United States. They are all undocumented and Jasmine can’t accept the scholarship.

 

This was a touching story about how a young girl deals with finding out she is undocumented. Who can she tell? She is ashamed of her status, and now she can’t even go to college.

 

This was the third book I read for my multicultural issue paper. I enjoyed the story. Jasmine is a strong female character and she doesn’t give up.

 

Another good book for teens (and anyone) to read to help understand what undocumented children experience.

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review 2017-03-15 01:16
Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi
American Street - Ibi Zoboi

Initial reaction: I enjoyed every moment of this novel because it was an emotional and realistic journey with a strong protagonist whose narrative voice stayed with me long after I finished the story. It's a difficult read to swallow in places because of the actions of some of the characters, but in the end, I was rooting for Fabiola to find her footing.

Full review:

I have so many emotions upon finishing "American Street" - and that's a very good thing.

It's a story with many layers to its narrative, brought to life by the vivid narration and characterization throughout. "American Street" tells the story of Fabiola, a Haitian immigrant arriving in the United States, but separated from her mother along the way when she's detained by authorities at the airport. Fabiola ends up in Detroit, living with her aunt and three cousins as she tries to adjust to life in America between waiting for efforts to get her mother back and pursuing her own ends to make it happen. This is only part of the story, as Fabiola reflects on her experiences in Haiti, struggles to fit in alongside her cousins at school, discovers some tough truths involving the people around her, both friends and enemies alike.

I think Fabiola is one of the most well rounded and voiced protagonists I've read in a YA work in a long time. She's fiercely loyal to her family, faith (she practices Voudou, which is probably one of the few times it's actually portrayed in a non-stereotypical way that I've seen in many works, including YA), and goals. She's not without flaws, and the way she recounts her experiences in Haiti alongside her difficult adjustment to life in Detroit is vibrant and vivid. The relationship between her and her cousins (Primadonna, Chantal, and Pri) is wonderfully done. I liked the rolling banter between them in places, allowing the reader to get to know them in the way that is close to Fabiola, but also for their own motivations. The narrative allows a deeper eye into some of the side-characters through monologue snippets delivered between chapters in a seamless way. I was even taken by the scenes of romance and relationship building that I saw through the narrative. The diversity of the characterization feels natural, well established, and refreshing to read in many respects.

I'll admit "American Street" hit me hard on a number of emotional levels because of the way the story unfolds and the turns of conflict. The narrative takes an honest look at relationship abuse, drug dealing and abuse, inner-city life, cultural clashes, among a number of other subjects. One could say that in some ways, there quite a few threads that aren't completely tied, but its Fabiola's resilience and transformation that carries the momentum of the story despite places where the story could've had better closure. The weight of Fabiola's decisions also factor into the story and give some raw moments of grief and coming to terms that really stood out for me. In the end, I really appreciated the narrative journey that "American Street" took me on, and it's one I'd definitely read again.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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review 2017-03-10 04:38
Secret Side of Empty - Review
The Secret Side of Empty - Maria E. Andreu

 

“How do you explain to someone that you are so horrible and useless that your own father despises you? I am so ashamed. I don’t want them to know because I know they’ll figure out what that means about me. The dirty, ugly outcast I really am.”

 

“… seventeen ways to say Illegal: Broken, Alone, Not allowed, Wrong, Trapped, Shunned, Unwanted, Not good enough, Apart, A secret, On the wrong side, Misplaced, A threat, A mistake, Voiceless, Unheard, and Still here anyway."

 

M.T. is a high school senior in New Jersey, brought here by her parents from Argentina as a baby, and her family is undocumented. Her father is abusive and her mother is too timid to do anything about it. M.T. is ashamed to tell even her best friend about her secrets.

 

This was a tough book to read. I hated to see M.T. so alone and suffering. Then again, this book tackles a lot of issues. She is bright and wants to go to college, but she can't because she is undocumented. Her father abuses her. She contemplates suicide and tries drugs and alcohol.

 

This is the second book I read for my multicultural issue paper. Unlike Alma in the first book (Dream Things True), M.T. doesn't have a supportive community who shares her concerns about being illegal. M.T. has been in the United States her entire life. She and her brother don't know any other life. She faces the same issues of insecurity and worries about acceptance that any other teen faces, but she is also dealing with an abusive father and being illegal.

 

This is another good book for teens to read. I think they will enjoy the story and along the way, they may find a tolerance they didn't know they had. It is hard when all the media and news you see is telling you to think one thing or another. This book may help teens develop their own thoughts on the situation.

 

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quote 2017-03-09 05:22
The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources -- because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.
Something in Between - Melissa de la Cruz

 

 

-- Lyndon B. Johnson

 

(Chapter 3 quote)

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