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
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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