From Inside Jacket: When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty - waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.
My Rating: 3.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: Bettina Restrepo’s Illegal is the touching story of one illegal immigrant girl’s journey from Mexico to Texas in search of her father to bring him back home and reunite her family.
I really admired Nora’s determination to find her father and stand up for herself when she sensed she was being taken advantage of. Occasionally though, I felt she was a bit naïve because it seemed like she thought that she and her mother could easily find her father; and that once he was found, all their problems would be solved. However, this also made Nora very relatable because even as you’re growing up, sometimes you can’t help but wish for life to be simple.
While Restrepo does touch upon the hardships faced by many immigrants, I thought it was portrayed somewhat lightly. Although Nora and her mother faced a gruelling trip crossing the border, – I would have expected nothing less since they are illegals – once they arrived in Texas, they were relatively lucky, securing fake papers and decent paying jobs in a short amount of time. This is not the case for many immigrants. The situation of Arturo, Nora’s father, was portrayed more realistically, and it really makes you think about all the sacrifices illegals must make for the chance of an improved life for themselves and their family.
A solid debut that captures the hopes of those who move to a new country and the obstacles they experience while settling, Illegal was released by Katherine Tegen Books in March 2011.
Comments About the Cover: It matches the tone of the book very well. When I look at the cover, I see a girl standing in an empty field, which portrays the poverty of Cedula, Mexico. She’s looking though at some tall buildings in the distance that she believes her father has helped build; and to me, that represents her dreams of a better tomorrow.