Friday, February 25, 2011

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

IllegalTitle: Illegal
Author: Bettina Restrepo
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 256
Published: Available March 1, 2011 by Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780061953422
Source: Traded for ARC

Description: Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora fights to make sense of her loss while waiting for her father’s return and a better day. When the letters and money from her father stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a harrowing experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place called Houston. Now, Nora figures out how to survive while still aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and a quinceaƱera to mark her fifteenth birthday. 

I Give This ...

First off, I want to applaud the author for writing a book about such a delicate subject in the US right now.  Now matter what your beliefs on the subject, you have to admit it is a hot button topic.  Since I live in an area that has a high amount of immigrants from Mexico (how many are illegal I have no idea), I really wanted to read this book. 

First off it's hard not to root for Nora.  I think it's the natural human instinct kicking in.  It hard to read about another human's suffering.  Nora's life in Mexico was pretty dire by my thoughts.  She doesn't go to school, has clothes that don't fit, and worries about her dad sending enough money to pay the next round of taxes on the farm.  It's a lot for any 14 year old to worry about.

 It's not all picnic's and roses in the US either.  First Nora has to get there.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the courage to illegally cross the border, but Nora does it with her head held high.  I think it was the desperation in trying to find her father.  I don't think she was expecting to live somewhere that was worse than her home in Mexico, or deal with gangs, all with trying to find out what really happened to her father.    And what really happened to him was just plan awful.  

In the end, I really enjoyed the story.  Although, I do wonder how accurate a portrayal this might be.  I'm not saying that anything in this book makes my views on illegal immigration any different.   I think it just might be a different scenario than most people would think of.


  1. Page, thank you for the thoughtful read and review. I'm deep touched.

    As to the accuracy of the truck ride - one can only imagine, because that wasn't a piece of research I was willing to undertake. But, I did base the experience from what I read about an incident in South Texas where a truck driver left 68 immigrants inside a metal trailer, in July. 19 of them died. It was horrible.

    Once again, thank you for doing what you do! Reading, reviewing and spreading the words.

  2. Bettina - I worded that part wrong. I think I meant more is this story typical? I think a lot of people get the impression that crossing the border and then establishing themselves in the US is easy. In this story it's anything but.

  3. It's an extremely hard thing to do. I mean, a very small percentage smuggle themselves over (says the Pew Research Center). They are at a complete disadvantage if they do it without family already here.

    As you know from the book, it's like getting off a bus and going... what's next?


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