At the center of every story lies credible fear; this essential volume is deserving of more than one read.

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THE OTHER SIDE

STORIES OF CENTRAL AMERICAN TEEN REFUGEES WHO DREAM OF CROSSING THE BORDER

A critical compilation of stories from unaccompanied Central American teen refugees who make tremendous sacrifices to cross the U.S.–Mexico border.

Told in short vignettes that offer dynamic perspectives, this harrowing book provides readers with snapshots of dire, foreboding situations faced by migrants. The first story, “Where Are Your Kids?” spotlights 16-year-old Kevin and his 10-year-old sister, Nicole, whose mother in the U.S. learns from an immigration officer that her kids are not in Guatemala on a school trip as she believed but rather detained at the San Ysidro border. In another account titled “I’d Rather Die Trying to Get Out,” the two siblings are moneyless and lost, resorting to asking a random truck driver for a lift. The author’s introductory note indicates that all these stories are true save for some changes to protect the 11 immigrant minors’ identities. Most narratives leave readers with (all the right) questions: How long were the teens detained? Are they OK? Why did they receive such horrible treatment in detention cells? What aren’t they telling readers? Villalobos (Breve historia del ya merito, 2018, etc.) records the chilling details of the refugees’ treks, framed against a background of politics and the reality of today’s migration crisis.

At the center of every story lies credible fear; this essential volume is deserving of more than one read. (author’s note, about the refugees, glossary, further reading) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30573-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

DISCOVERING WES MOORE

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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