Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo YP FIC RESTREPO

She was promised they would be together for her quinceañera, but her father stopped sending letters and money months ago.  Nora sets out with her mother to find him by taking a dangerous trek across the border and trying to live on the streets of Houston. Nora struggles to get by and not get caught while trying to make a new life.

This is a incredibly well written book on most every front.  The story is told from Nora’s viewpoint and I immediately believed her as a real person and was invested in her journey.  This can put a face for readers that only read about the debate over immigration without knowing anyone involved.  The chapters are short and seem to be stripped entirely of excess, so that only the most affecting moments are conveyed. I loved how accurate the setting of Houston’s immigrant community was.  The only complaint I have is that Restrepo makes Nora’s journey sort of sanitized.  In crafting a tale that younger teens could enjoy it seems like she may have self censored.  Nora has a great deal of hardship yes, but the book avoids showing many of the worst horrors that often face women crossing into America illegally.  It does allude to them, but by not tackling those head one it almost felt as if Restrepo sugarcoats the reality to reach a larger audience.  However, for what it is and does try to achieve it is very successful.  Anyone that enjoys realistic fiction should give Illegal a chance.

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