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The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez Hardcover – September 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 18 and up
  • Grade Level: 9 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; First Printing edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423110722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423110729
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,263,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8–10—California-born Sonia Rodriguez, 15, the daughter of illegal Mexican immigrants, is determined to be the first high school graduate in her family. Her goal is nearly impossible to achieve when she is expected to cook, clean, and care for younger siblings while her pregnant mother lounges in bed watching telenovelas. Sonia's struggle is played out against a cast of stock characters, including her mother's obese, hyper-religious, and critical sister; her mother's alcoholic brother ("my drunkle"), who is frequently arrested and makes inappropriate sexual advances toward his niece; and her devoted, hardworking father, who seems oblivious to his family's exploitation of the daughter for whom he has high hopes. Sonia's awareness that her family's behavior reinforces negative stereotypes many Americans have about her culture strengthens her resolve to succeed. Despite her best intentions, the help of a sympathetic school counselor, and the wisdom she gains during a summer in Mexico with her grandmother, it seems that she will be defeated by her circumstances, but a surprising twist results in an uplifting ending. Sitomer, author of The Hoopster (2005) and Hip-Hop High School (2006, both Hyperion), in which Sonia appeared as a minor character, has a gift for capturing current high school culture and teen speak.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sonía, 16, thinks that sunny metaphors that portray America as a melting-pot are nonsense. Her parents are illegals, driven north by poverty across the Mexican border, but she was born in the U.S. and is determined to graduate from high school. Her struggle is part Cinderella fairy tale and part contemporary immigrant realism, as she is forced to cook and clean for her family and must stay up past midnight to get her homework done. Candid about the prejudice not only toward Latinos but also within the Latino community (her gorgeous, tender boyfriend is Salvadoran, so he must be kept secret), Sonía’s first-person narrative expresses her fury at her family, including her mother, who still doesn’t speak English and treats Sonía as a servant; her macho brothers; and especially her drunk uncle (druncle), who tries to rape her. But Papi works three jobs, and he is her strong support, and after Sonía visits Mexico, she gains new respect for her roots. Sonía’s immediate voice will hold teens with its mix of anger, sorrow, tenderness, and humor. Grades 9-12. --Hazel Rochman

More About the Author

Alan Lawrence Sitomer is California's 2007 Teacher of the Year. In addition to being an inner-city high school English teacher and former professor in the Graduate School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, Mr. Sitomer is a nationally renowned speaker specializing in engaging reluctant readers who received the 2004 award for Classroom Excellence from the Southern California Teachers of English and the 2003 Teacher of the Year honor from California Literacy. In April 2007, Alan was named Educator of the Year by Loyola Marymount University and in February 2008 The Insight Education Group named Alan Lawrence Sitomer the Innovative Educator of the Year.

Mr. Sitomer has also authored four young adult novels published by Disney, which include The Hoopster, Hip-Hop High School, Homeboyz and The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez.

The American Library Association named Homeboyz a Top Ten Book of the Year 2008, receiving the prestigious ALA Quick Pick Recognition for young adult novel which best engages reluctant readers. The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez was also been nominated for the same award.

Alan is the author of Hip-Hop Poetry & the Classics, a text being used in classrooms across the United States to illuminate classic poetry through hip-hop in order to engage disengaged students in both poetry and academics.

Additionally, Mr. Sitomer has just written a teacher's methodology book for Scholastic titled Teaching Teens & Reaping Results: In a Wi-Fi, Hip-Hop, Where-Has-All-The-Sanity-Gone World.

Most recently, Mr. Sitomer has authored The Alan Sitomer BookJam.

BookJams have been designed to nail core language arts standards, raise test scores, and return teachers to a position of strength. By bringing real books back into the classroom through a student-centric approach to learning in order to achieve core curriculum objectives, teachers can utilize all the tools Alan utilizes in his own classroom each and every day. BookJams are literally "straight out of Alan's private filing cabinet" and include a host of core, standards-based activities and lesson plans as well as a dynamic spectrum of 21st-century, hands-on learning projects. Intelligent grading rubrics, differentiated assessments and award-winning literature are all included.

Customer Reviews

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It hits just how powerful family can be, both good and bad aspects!
YankeesGirl
Those things aside, I really did enjoy this and if you're looking for a good book to make you think, this one is it.
Harmony Book Reviews
I would recommend it to someone and would read another book by this author.
Mary Gaul

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Heather O'Roark on February 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Sonia Rodriguez is a first generation American citizen - her parents were both born in Mexico and came to the United States illegally. Her father works three jobs and her mother stays home - mostly watching soap operas all day, leaving Sonia to do the cooking and cleaning and watching over her younger brothers. When Sonia isn't being her mother's slave, she tries to study while avoiding the advances of her alcoholic uncle ("drunkle"). When Sonia starts to rebel by putting more energy and effort into her schoolwork than she does into her duties at home, her mother decides she needs to spend the summer in Mexico with her grandmother and cousin to learn the importance of la familia.

Although her summer in Mexico is much better than she could have ever anticipated, Sonia comes home to an even worse situation than she left - her mother has given birth to twins, which gives Sonia about three times the work she previously had, leaving absolutely zero time for school work. Still, she is determined to succeed in school and be the first person in her family to earn a high school diploma. All she needs to do is balance cooking, cleaning, being a mom to twin newborns, and passing all her classes. Oh, and she also has to worry about her "drunkle", whose advances have become much less subtle and more scary by the day.

I "read" The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguezas an audio book and it definitely kept me interested for my drives to and from work. I felt a lot of empathy for Sonia and found myself rooting for her throughout the entire book - I started to care about her and was really hoping for the book to end with her graduation from high school and entrance to college (don't worry, I won't tell if it happens or not!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harmony Book Reviews on December 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez tackles what is now a very controversial subject - illegal immigrants from Mexico. While I'm sure you all have your own opinions on the subject, I know I do, this book was definitely an eye-opener.

The cast of characters was...well, interesting. Sonia, despite the whole immigrant part, was extremely easy to relate to. Her family members were realistic, despite their idiocy at some points. (Mainly her mother and aunt.)

The plot was also enjoyable and unique. I'd never read anything about Mexicans, especially not illegal ones, so it was refreshing, and as I stated above, eye-opening, to do so. Sitomer captured a raw truthfulness that many authors would not have been able to do.

But, that's not to say the book didn't have it's flaws. For one, it was extremely rushed at the middle and towards the end. I think there was a total of thirty or less pages spent in Mexico and after she decides to finish school, it all goes by with a blur. The character of Geraldo was also extremey cliche' and unrealistic. Sure, he's every girls' dream guy but, unfortunately, no male would ever act like he did.

Those things aside, I really did enjoy this and if you're looking for a good book to make you think, this one is it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heather Olson Willman on May 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
it only took me 5 days to read it a book take you by suprize i loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on December 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Sonia's family is low-income, low-minded, and not entirely legal immigrants from Mexico. They take her ambitions to graduate and continue school as a personal offense and a sign that she doesn't care about her family enough. To rectify this, they send her to Mexico to live with her grandmother and cousin to reinforce their "family first" ideals. What Sonia learns instead is that while family is important, so is being successful and achieving your goals. When she returns home, it is with newfound determination. But when life's issues begin piling up and a romantic interest gets in the way, Sonia will find her dreams of rising above her current status threatened.

Sharp, wise, and extremely insightful, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez is an eye-opening and attention grabbing book. The straightforward style and compelling voice make this a book that many teens will be able to draw connections with from the text to their own lives. The characters are wonderfully developed and described, making them the feature that stands out the most in the novel. Sonia especially easily wins readers over with her heart and honesty, and earns readers' sympathies with all that she endures. The only things that didn't measure up to the rest of the book was the very short amount of time spent in Sonia's time in Mexico, but it in no way detracts from the overall reading experience. The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez is an inspiring and realistic look at one girl's struggle to find her identity and place in life, and is sure to popular among teens from many backgrounds.
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By Rebeca Illescas on April 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eventhough this is not a true story, it can be anyone of my students. Sonia is a high school student with a set of conflicting educational values.
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By mel on February 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i am always looking for novels that I can relate to. that have my cultural background woven in the words. This book is one of them.
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By Nicole on December 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book was amazing because it tells about Sonia's life and her life is the same as mine because her parents do not speak English like my parents.she has a lot of brothers & sisters like i do.
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