author: Melin Alegria
2007, Simon and Schuster
Main character: Sofi Mendoza
If you’re a teenage girl growing up in California with friends who like to party, and the guy you most want to party with is going to be at what promises to be a very hot party this weekend, you’d probably disobey your parents and go to the party. Even if the party were across the border in Mexico. And that’s what Sofi Mendoza does. And that’s just what she shouldn’t have done!!
Sofi is so Americanized that she only knows a little of the Spanish she’s learned in school. She doesn’t know the hardships her parents faced in Mexico and she even thinks the ethnic slurs her White American friends have adapted are cute and funny. Things change abruptly for Sofi when she is detained in Mexico longer than she’s ever expected. Through situations which arise, she learns a lot about the country from where her family came, about her family and about herself.
Melin Alegria, author of Estrella’s Quinceanera, based this story on a real incident of a US citizen who was detained in Mexico for several years while her citizenship was debated in court. Alegria developed the occurence into an energetic and engaging plot which brings to light many issues facing young Mexicans today. The story almost ends too soon as situations are easily maneuvered. The book maintains a feel of authenticity with sprinklings of Spanish, vivid descriptions of places and well developed characters. It helps to know that there is a glossary at the back of the book.
While young Latinos will enjoy this book, any young person who reads it will enjoy the quick moving plot and should enjoy a glimpse into another culture.
themes: Mexican culture; immigration; family; education