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Where I Belong

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Member Reviews

Where I Belong
by Marcia Argueta Mickelson
Pub Date 07 Sep 2021 
 Lerner Publishing Group,  Carolrhoda Lab ®
 Multicultural Interest  |  OwnVoices  |  Teens & YA






I am reviewing a copy of Where I Belong through Lerner Publishing Group and Netgalley:






It’s the spring of  2018, Guatemalan American high school senior Milagros “Millie” Vargas knows her life is about to change.   She’s lived in Corpus Cristi since she came with her parents who were seeking asylum when she was an infant.  Now that she’s a citizen Millie devotes herself to school as well as caring for her younger siblings while her mom works as a housekeeper for the wealthy Wheeler family.  Now that College is on the horizon Millie is torn between attending her dream school and staying close to home, where she knows she’s needed. She’s disturbed by what’s happening to asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, but she doesn’t see herself as an activist or a change-maker. She’s just trying to take care of her own family.





After Mr Wheeler a U.S. Senate candidate, mentions Millie’s achievements in a campaign speech about “deserving” immigrants.It doesn’t take long for people to identify Millie’s family and place them at the center of a statewide immigration debate. Faced with journalists, trolls, anonymous threats, and the Wheelers' good intentions—especially those of Mr. Wheeler's son, Charlie—Millie must confront the complexity of her past, the uncertainty of her future, and her place in the country that she believed was home.





I give Where I Belong five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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DNF @ 24%
This just could not keep my attention. I wanted to love it. I wanted to enjoy this story. I just couldn't. I wanted to so bad. It just hit the point where I was skimming pages and that wasn't fair to the story and I didn't want to keep reading just to leave an even more negative review and to say I finished more books than I did.
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A Stanford-bound teen who was born in Guatemala is thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight when the politician who employs her mother as a housekeeper holds her up as a positive example of how immigrants improve America, leading to violent backlash against her family.

Set in the very recent past (2018), this coming-of-age story spotlights issues of race, class, and identity as the protagonist faces 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 the politician's son comes to better understand his prejudices and blindspots, the protagonist 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 provide fuel for discussion in high school Government/Civics classrooms as the protagonist wrestles with 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.
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Hooked from the start! Milagros, aka Millie, immigrated from Guatemalan to the U.S with her parents when she was just a baby. She spends most of her life following the rules, sure not to rock the boat, until she is suddenly caught in the middle of it all. This is a story of her journey... of family and strangers, of friends and foe, of the rich and the poor, and finally of blending in and standing out. 

I struggled a little with the writing of this book at first, mostly because there are a few points that seem unnecessarily repetitive, specifically the watch details. However, the story, the characters, and topics were great and definitely won me over. This book makes sense for a middle grade or late elementary reader. I can see it as a great conversation starter with older children.
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I really enjoyed this book. It was quite different than what I'm used to.. I loved the characters and the story and the messages that the story conveyed. It's a good, soild book,
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Milagros, aka Millie, has lived in the United States ever since her parents fled Guatemala to seek asylum in the United States.  Her brother and sisters were born in the US, and she has since been granted citizenship.  News of the housing illegal immigrants separate from their children has once again flared up the debate about immigrants.  Millie accidentally finds herself in the middle of a heated media debate when her mother's boss mentions her in a campaign speech.

I felt the story lacked something.  I never felt like I connected to Millie.  While I felt compassion for what was happening to her family, she started off the book whining and never really stopped.  Then everything came together quickly in a happy ending.  It wasn't until the author notes at the end, you realize the author had come from Guatemala, and why people were escaping Guatemala to come to the United States.
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Millie and her family came to the United States from Honduras where they were granted asylum and are now citizens.  Millie's mother works for a US Senate candidate and his family.  When this Senate candidate mentions Millie as a reason to allow for a citizenship pathway while campaigning, unwanted attention is put on the family and causes them many problems.  Millie is challenged between wanting to blend in and not be noticed like many immigrant families, and speaking out and using her platform to fight for change.  Touches on many timely and important topics.
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Rating: 3.5/5

Review:
I had very mixed feelings while reading this book, and I'm not sure how I can accurately describe it. I chose this book because It was something familiar to me personally and it was short, which allowed me to kind of get out of my reading slump. The story follows Milagros Vargas, an 18-year-old Guatemalan-American who was brought to the US when she was only a few months old. In the beginning, we get to experience and see Millie's day-to-day life, and what expectations are brought upon her as the oldest daughter of three other siblings while her mom is a housekeeper for a U.S. Senate Candidate. She held very hostile feelings towards them, especially since her mother continues to take care of their youngest daughter of the Wheelers while she plays mom at home and takes care of her own siblings. The story progresses as Millie is thrown into a very political topic about immigration and feeling the expectations that just because she is Guatemalan who just got her citizenship two years prior, she is supposed to speak up. Feeling fear for bringing the limelight to the family and getting hate comments, as well as having their house burned down, she's against wanting any more attention towards her because she doesn't want to risk her family's safety.

As I read this story, It was scary how accurate and similar Millie's circumstances were to my own. I was the oldest daughter in a Mexican household, but I didn't have to worry about citizenship or my mother's because I was born here and my mom got hers after she came across the border and met my dad. Although because my mom was never home, it was my responsibility to cook, clean, and make sure I was doing well in my classes and to ensure that my brothers were as well. That all escalated when my little sister was born when I was 13, I basically raised her. Millie kept talking about her need to stay out of the spotlight and kept having everyone around her constantly guilt-tripping her into speaking out, which is why I was a bit frustrated. I didn't blame Millie for feeling what she felt, in fact, I probably would've done the same because there is nothing scarier than having people find out everything about you and threaten you just because you came to their country to be safe. I also felt her frustration when she explained how she can have the luxury to think about what she wants because what she wants doesn't matter compared to what is expected of her. She is always having to take care of her siblings and do these things she wouldn't normally do because her mom is working and she's supposed to.

I liked the story and it was very thought-provoking, which I loved. It was nice reading a story about a character who had similar experiences and backgrounds as you, and it made the story a bit more personal.

A big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Asylum seekers, immigration, hate crimes, and success. Millie learns to face her fears with the help of her mom. “We can’t be scared, Millie. It’s not living if you live in fear.” @NetGalley #MarciaArguetaMickelson
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What a great story of our times. This book took me to Texas, and the issues those on the outside must face daily. I know I am a privileged person even more so after reading this.
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Wow, this was a fantastic read! I wish there were more books like "Where I Belong."🌟🌟🌟 3/3! While relationships are included with friends and a possible interest, the focus is on change and unity regarding immigration. Readers follow Millie as she navigates the hidden agenda, hate, and impact roles of immigration. I love that the author resonates and made Millie to have similarities of herself. Like the author, Millie moved to the United States from Guatemala. The story is personable and impactful. I strongly recommend this book, being my favorite thus far for the year, to all readers! I cannot wait to read more from the author.

As a teacher, I would love to include this in my class reading!

Three words to describe the book: Family, Immigration, and Unity
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From the first paragraph, I knew this book would be a good one. I immersed myself into the book from the first chapter and I cannot say enough good things about this book! Honestly amazing! The writing is incredible and the plot is just one to die for. I am absolutely obsessed with this book. My favorite part would have to be the character development throughout the book. Character development is something I look forward to and this book did not disappoint.
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Me, when a story can’t hold my attention: sighing, skimming pages, trying to focus again, starting another story, skipping pages so I’m progressing faster, sighing again. I told myself to DNF more books but what if I start to like a book after 20%? It happens! Or after 30%? Or 40%? So, I try to DNF as little as possible. I should do it more often, though. 

It’s clear. I didn’t like this story very much. I started wrong. I requested the book just after I finished Indivisible by Daniel Aleman, a beautiful YA about a Mexican immigrant boy. And when I saw this one on NetGalley and found out it was about a Guatemalan immigrant girl, I requested it immediately. And then, after reading a few pages, I disliked the writing. Too telling for my liking. I’d like to be part of a story, feel what the characters feel, see what they see, experience it all. I just didn’t and therefore I couldn’t get into it. So, I started skimming pages, skipping pages, sighing etc. Maybe it’s not fair because I loved Indivisible, and I shouldn’t compare those two. But I did. 

Please read other reviews if you’re interested in this book. They probably give a more fair review than I do.
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This book tells the story of Millie, a senior in high school who was brought by her parents to seek asylum in the United States as a child and finds herself unwillingly caught up in discussions of immigration policy.

I thought the story was important, and could be a really good introduction to conversations surrounding immigration and asylum in the US for younger or less-informed readers. Unfortunately, I felt like the writing kept me from getting really invested in the story. I found it difficult to connect with the characters, and often felt like I was being told what was happening rather than getting to experience it along with Millie. Combined with the fact that I am relatively familiar with the issues the book was discussing, I just didn't feel like I was getting much from the book. However, I still think this could be a great read for anyone interested in learning more about immigration/the experiences of young immigrants in the US!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an early edition of this book.
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Milagros (Millie) Vargos is about to graduate with the class of 2018 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Millie has lived in Texas with her family ever since her parents fled Guatemala and sought asylum in the US when Millie was a baby. Millie is now a citizen and has a full-ride scholarship to Standford University in the fall. Ever since her Papi died years ago, she spends her time caring for her younger brother and sisters while her mom works long hours for the Wheeler family. Her life is predictable and calm, until Mr. Wheeler mentions Millie and her family in a political speech as he is running for US Senate. Suddenly Millie is in the limelight and she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t want to be an example of a deserving immigrant. Millie just wants to feel like she belongs and isn’t an outsider or different. 
Suddenly Millie is faced with the bad side of being in the spotlight with the media. Journalists want to talk to her and hear her story. Internet trolls and classmates are attacking her and telling her to “go back to Mexico”.

Millie’s story is relatable and shines light on a tumultuous situation with immigration in the U.S.  Millie struggles with the themes of belonging and who she is.  I felt that it is an important story to tell and to read.
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Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review!

I am white. I was born in the US. English is my first language. I am begging you to find a review by an immigrate or a first generation American. Their review is and will always be more important and relevant than mine. 

This book talks about parts of being an immigrant that I’ve barely heard anyone talk about. The amazing writing just transported me there. I felt Millie’s frustration and anger and hopelessness. She was so flushed out, her character and struggles are heartbreakingly real. (Until the end)

I could’ve done without the romance. I think Millie should’ve focused on her own mental health and life before getting involved with someone. 

Charlie had good intentions but honestly kind of clueless about what her life is like. After the 3rd or 4th time he she called him out on his ignorance he should’ve stepped back and educated himself. He doesn’t seem to care at all about the racism she’s subjected to, brushing it off and downplaying it. Pretending he isn’t privileged.  

They said they love each other way too quickly. They’ve been more than acquaintances for a couple months. 

Everyone pressured Millie into dating him. You can be a complete and fulfilled person without a partner, but absolutely nobody in this seemed to agree. 

Coming from extremely difficult backgrounds and one of you refusing to acknowledge that is a perfectly reasonable excuse not to date someone. 

Not every character has to be selfless. If her family is more important to her please don’t guilt trip her into being an activist. Especially don’t then act like it’s her choice when you’ve been calling her selfish for just wanting to live a normal life. 

An incomplete list of people who guilt trip her into being an activist after she says no
-her mom
-her sister 
-love interest 
-Adult activist 
-teenage activist
-her best friend

If you’re going to write a book about an activist please don’t make her do it because people have made her feel guilty for not being one enough that she gives in. 

If you wanted her to change her mind and turn into an activist here are some things that would be better to convince her
-her home being burned
-seeing other immigrants being targeted
-trying to make a better world for her siblings

Anything but guilt tripping

I dragged myself through the last 25% of this book. I skimmed the last 5%. It was forced and again guilt tripping into being an activist. 

Overall started good but went downhill as the story went on. I’d love to read a book by this author about an activist who wanted to do it. Also without the romance hopefully.
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I really enjoyed the book. You couldn’t help but love the characters the author wrote. She made sure they had their perfections and flaws that make them human, and overall relatable. I felt that the message the book gave was not only about sacrifices for family but having courage in times of need.
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