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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.



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 2017-03-10 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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review 2017-03-09 05:05
Dream Things True
Dream Things True - Marie F. Marquardt


Alma thought back to the day she learned that she wasn’t in status – that she was a person who was here but not welcome, embedded in this place, but also somehow apart from it.


None of it mattered. None of it mattered because she was, as she had always known, one of the kids stuck in between.



Alma is a junior in high school, brilliant, with a bright future, but her family is undocumented and the threat of ICE is always looming. Alma wants to tell her new boyfriend, Evan, but she is ashamed, and his uncle is pushing for a crackdown on illegal immigrants.


I read this book for my multicultural lit class. Alma is a feisty girl and I like her. Her life is difficult, but she has a large community supporting her. Alma’s parents just wanted to give her and her brother a better life, and they took a big chance by coming to the United States. This a good example of perseverance in a difficult situation. And the ending wasn't oversimplified.


This is a good book for teens to read. It may help them sympathize with the plight of illegal immigrants. Also, teens will see that the characters are just like them and experience similar feelings. I read three books on this issue for an essay I did for class. In all three books, the main characters dealt with shame and feelings of not belonging anywhere. 


A good multicultural book for anyone to read, especially now.

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review 2017-03-01 03:02
American Born Chinese review
American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang



I read this book for my grad school multicultural lit class.


This book includes three stories that are interconnected. I have to admit that the first time I read it, I thought the stories were separate until the end. I went back and read it a second time so I could experience it as it was meant to be read. 


It is funny and even silly at times, but the message to be true to yourself shines through. It shows how an outsider can feel compelled to change themselves to fit in with everyone else. But that the most important thing is to be who you are.


Fun graphic novel suitable for middle grade and up.

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