By Jennifer De Leon

Hardcover edition

Publisher Simon & Schuster Imprint Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books ISBN



In stock


Crime: Gang/Organized Crime,Language: Strong Language,Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes,Violence: Death,Violence: Sexual Assault/Rape Reference/Discussion

Caught in the cross hairs of gang violence, a teen girl and her mother set off on a perilous journey from Guatemala City to the US border in this heart-wrenching young adult novel from the author of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From.

For seventeen-year-old Maya, trashion is her passion, and her talent for making clothing out of unusual objects landed her a scholarship to Guatemala City’s most prestigious art school and a finalist spot in the school’s fashion show. Mamá is her biggest supporter, taking on extra jobs to pay for what the scholarship doesn’t cover, and she might be even more excited than Maya about what the fashion show could do for her future career.

So when Mamá doesn’t come to the show, Maya doesn’t know what to think. But the truth is worse than she could have imagined. The gang threats in their neighborhood have walked in their front door—with a boy Maya considered a friend, or maybe more, among them. After barely making their escape, Maya and her mom have no choice but to continue their desperate flight all the way through Guatemala and Mexico in hopes of crossing the US border.

They have to cross. They must cross! Can they?

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—De Leon (Don't Ask Me Where I'm From) tackles stereotypes and thoroughly unravels reductive narratives about immigration in this excellent work. Maya has hopes and dreams of a career in fashion design, winning a school contest, and living her best life in Guatemala City. She attends a well-funded 21st-century private school, has deep generational ties to her community, and a best friend she loves like a sister. This is also a love letter to Guatemala, rich in volcanoes, ancestral villages, textiles, cuisine, fútbol, and the Xetulul theme park. But when Maya witnesses a murder, she and her mother must flee their beloved country to save their lives, and the rest of the novel becomes a fast-paced race to the U.S. border. They are captured as they cross the Rio Grande, and the novel shifts from the suspense genre into a documentary of the detailed horror of the detention and dehumanization experienced by migrants from the global south. The asylum process reduces Maya's choices to staying in the U.S. and "making something new from the wreckage" of her life, or going back to Guatemala to reunite with her deported mother. This is an important work that provides readers a nuanced look at a community that is often spoken of with disparaging clichés: illegal, poor, illiterate. De Leon's novel offers readers an access point to a more complete picture of asylum seekers and a thoughtful reflection for those who have lived through a similar experience. VERDICT Seamlessly woven elements result in a poignant, coming-of-age novel. A standout title.—Stephanie Creamer

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