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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Millie isn’t sure how to tell her mom she got into Stanford. She knows she’ll be proud, but her mom counts on her to babysit her younger siblings while she’s busy as the housekeeper for a wealthy senator and his family. And after everything her mom sacrificed to get her family from the poverty and political upheaval of Guatemala to become naturalized U.S. citizens in Corpus Christi, Millie can’t just abandon her to go to school.
But when the senator uses Millie as an example of an asylum seeker success story in a speech decrying the policy of family separation at the border, she is thrust into an uncomfortable–and dangerous–spotlight. Violent anti-immigrant extremists burn her house to the ground and she finds herself living with the senator and his family. As journalists clamor for interviews and her feelings warm toward the senator’s teenage son, Charlie, Millie wrestles with her responsibility to her family, the tension between her social class and Charlie’s, a sense of obligation to use her own privilege as an American citizen to stand up for other immigrants, and her fervent desire to live a quiet, safe, and anonymous life.
Set in the very recent past (2018), this coming-of-age story spotlights issues of race, class, and identity as Millie confronts the injustice of U.S. immigration policy and the complex moral and emotional issues that arise when she is held up as an “ideal” Latina immigrant. As Charlie comes to better understand his prejudices and blindspots, Millie works through her own judgments and assumptions about others (especially her mother) and her rigid opinions about the right way to do things. A great addition to YA contemporary collections, this book would also provide fuel for discussion in high school Government/Civics classrooms.