Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
March 8, 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge AND
A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Bettina Restrepo’s powerful and deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl’s unique yet universal immigrant experience.

I was really, really moved by this story. Nora is just a girl about to be fifteen, and she dreams of a life filled with the simplest things in life: earrings, school, a party to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. But instead she has had to grow up well before her years, helping Mama and Grandma gather and sell the meager fruit the farm produces, while waiting for Papa to return from America, where he has headed to find work. Money from America arrives sporadically, and news of Papa even less so. When times get even tighter than they had been, Nora and her mother make the heart-breaking decision to go to America to try and find Papa.

Bettina has a way with words and telling a story. The scene where Nora and her mother are actually making the crossing to America was very difficult for me to read. We're taken right into Nora's world, and we're right with her as she struggles with the new language and mannerisms of Houston, Texas. My heart was aching for Nora during several scenes in this story. This poor girl has nothing, yet she never lets go of her dreams. It's this hope that kept me rooting for Nora right until the end of the story. I challenge anyone to read this book and not be affected by it in some way.

Tomorrow Bettina will be stopping by for an interview--it's my very first time participating in a book blog tour!

eGalley received from author.

Enjoy your reading!

1 comment:

  1. This one is definitely on my to-read list - it's one of the few PoC debuts this year, I think. Glad to hear you liked it and I can't wait to read the interview! =)


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