At first I had a really hard time getting through the book. When Nora's safety is threatened, Restrepo doesn't hold back--she makes it feel so real that you don't just think about Nora experiencing such horrible conditions, you also think about all the people, thousands upon thousands of real girls and women--boys and men, too--who have been victimized in this situation, and who are not as lucky (or fictional) like Nora. I had to put it down at some point and read something more entertaining.
Something about the writing style irked me at first--like it was written for a much younger reader, maybe elementary school age, even though the topics and situations are not appropriate for that age group (there are references to sexual solicitation, drugs, and gang activity). Eventually I came to understand and accept that though Nora is a smart girl, she has not had the access to education that the average American teen has, and so her voice is a little more simplistic, though no less complex and emotionally charged. It is Nora's strength and passion that will keep the reader invested in the outcome of her journey into America.
Who should read this book: Anyone. Everyone! (Ok, with an age/maturity caveat, there are some difficult themes explored in this book. Let's say high school unless the young person has already endured the same tribulations.) It's a painful, personal, and politically explosive topic. I think the author is very brave to tackle the subject, since it potentially makes her a target for people who are opposed to illegal immigration. I don't think that many adults will read this book and change their minds one way or another on whether it is right or wrong, but I hope that younger people will gain a greater sense of humanity and understanding from Nora's story.
Illegal is Bettina Restrepo's debut YA novel. The author has provided discussion questions on her website at bettinarestrepo.com. Follow @BettinaRestrepo on Twitter.
"Like" Bettina's Facebook fan page. That's where she will announce the 5 winners of the Illegal Blog Tour contest. Comment on this and any of the Illegal Blog Tour posts and you will be automatically entered to win a signed copy of the book.
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Comments? Would you/have you read this book? No spoilers, please.
- Are you an immigrant?
- What would worry you the most if you tried to illegally enter another country (doesn't have to be the US) in search of a better life?
- Do you have any questions for the author?
e-galley acquired from author in PDF form.