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Annotation: Nora, a fifteen-year-old Mexican girl, faces the challenges of being an illegal immigrant in Texas when she and her mother cross the border in search of Nora's father.
Catalog Number: #48640
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
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Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: xiii, 251 pages
Availability: Available (Limited Quantities Available / While Supplies Last)
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-195342-3 Perma-Bound: 0-605-48783-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-195342-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-48783-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2010019451
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Nora and her mother make a dangerous journey from Mexico to Texas to find Nora's father and a better life. Nothing works out as planned, and they must deal with a devastating loss. The issues of illegal immigration, gang violence, death, loyalty, and identity are thoroughly explored in this mature, dramatic novel. Glos.
Kirkus Reviews
When Nora's dad left their small Mexican town, Cedula, to make money for the family in the United States, he promised to be back for her 15th birthday quinceañera celebration. Now three years later, Cedula, without "even a stinking drug dealer in this town to spread the cash around," has closed its schools, families are moving away and 14-year-old Nora worries her father won't return in time. When his money stops arriving, her family risks losing its land and she hears a voice telling her to flee, Nora convinces her mother to use their savings to be smuggled across the border to look for him. With searing realism, debut author Restrepo describes Nora's anger, desperation and loss of faith when she and her mother arrive, barely alive in the back of a fruit truck, in Houston to a barrio that's characterized by racial division, gangs, violence and filthy living conditions. Giving up her dreams about her father's promise and American prosperity, Nora simply wants to find the truth and survive in her foreign surroundings. Newfound friends, struggling with their own poverty and gang threats, and community, made up of all kinds of outsiders, combine with her own indomitable spirit to give her the courage to fight to belong. This memorable coming-of-age story will awaken readers to the overlooked struggles of immigrants. (glossary) (Fiction. YA)
School Library Journal
Gr 7&11;10&12; Nora, 14, and her family own and work a grapefruit farm in Cedula, Mexico. The town is slowly dying and no one is around to buy their fruit, leaving them with many bills to pay. To help make ends meet, Nora's father illegally crosses the border into Texas and sends money back home. But one day it stops coming. Nora and her mother follow in the man's footsteps, hiding in the back of a truck to cross into Texas. As Nora searches for her father, she learns some hard lessons about life in America, being an outsider, and growing up. While the plot has relevance, the tone of the novel is too light for such an intense topic, and the characters are not fully developed, making it difficult for readers to truly relate to their problems.&12; Jessie Spalding, Tempe Public Library, AZ
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Nora's beloved Papa has been working illegally on a construction site in Texas and sending money back home. But when the letters and money stop coming, Nora and Mama leave family behind and set out to find him. After being smuggled across the border in a stifling, packed mango truck, they struggle to survive with false papers in Houston, where they find no work. No Papa. No nothing. With depth and detail, Restrepo tells the story of contemporary illegals. Never sentimental, this debut novel is clear about the characters' harsh daily struggle for shelter, food, and community, as Nora fights off violence, including an attempted gang rape; makes friends (who also need help); and questions her faith in God. Her insistent dream is to go to school, and she also longs for shoes that fit and pierced ears for her quinceañera celebration, to mark her fifteenth birthday. At times, the prose veers into docu-novel territory, but the unsparing language keeps the tension mounting as well as the heartbreak: Nothing but their broken dreams hung in the air, and they stank. The teen's immediate first-person narrative will hook readers with its gritty specifics, honest anger and sorrow, and the small acts of kindness that occur throughout the harrowing journey.
Word Count: 41,708
Reading Level: 3.8
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.8 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 143376 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.2 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q53400
Lexile: HL540L
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

In this timely and gripping novel, author Bettina Restrepo exposes the challenges of one girl’s unique yet universal immigrant experience. This is an eye-opening look into the harrowing journey a family takes to forge a more hopeful future.

Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. 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—in wait of 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. Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her quinceañera.

* Booklist Top Ten First Novels for Youth * YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers * Amelia Bloomer List * TAYSHAS Reading List Pick *

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