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Member Reviews

great book wow. recommend having nothing else to do but read for a day or 2. the character development was great as as well as the plot.

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This was a fantastic YA read that started as a talented fashion designer from Guatemala who was seeking a scholarship, then delved into gang activity, and the dangers of living in gang-occupied areas. The action picked up as Maya witnesses a gang-related murder and must flee with her mother and boyfriend. Separated at the border, she suddenly must navigate being a refugee and struggle to reunite with her mom.

This is such an empathetic look at refugees and their side of the story. I think it would be a very compelling book for any YA. I highly recommend this book!

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Set in Guatemala City, Maya is a 17-year-old teen passionate about "trash-ion" and upcycling materials. However, when she witnesses something she should not have, she comes into the cross-hairs of the local gang. So begins her perilous escape with her mom to leave Guatemala for the safe, yet unknown, land across the border.
This story was definitely a slow burn and, unlike the summary, was mostly about Maya's life in Guatemala City as she navigates fashion school and the reality of her zona's gang "situation." Maya, like any teen, is preoccupied within her universe and makes naive mistakes anyone in her position would have. But I found myself shaking my head and saying "Ay Mayita, don't do it..." But again, she's a teen who's rose-colored glasses are beginning to come off.
The crossing of the border and what comes after is actually just a small fraction of the novel. I really wanted to love this book because of the premise and the efforts Jennifer De Leon makes to humanize each character and the perilous situation. Unfortunately, a lot of the book is either summary, exposition, or repetition of Maya's inner monologue with much of the conflict, which was actually really heart-breaking, occurring at the end of the novel.

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Jennifer De Leon’s books are humanizing. That’s the very best compliment I can pay them. We so often hear of undocumented people referred to as animals or vermin or an invasion, horrible things to say about any human being. If you can read this book, meet Maya and her mother, and still look down on people fleeing a dangerous situation to find a better life, then YOU are the inhuman monster, not them. Everyone deserves a chance to thrive, to do more than survive. If that means you leave first and worry about legalities later? Then your situation must have been unsurvivable and I hope you have someone who can help make the best of a terrible situation with you.

While I felt this book was a bit too forced teen voice (some parts came across like that Steve Buscemi meme about the fellow youths) and some of the minor plot points felt a bit inconceivable, it was not a bad book and, as I said about her other book, if reading this makes teens grow up to not treat migrants like shit? It’s done its work.

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This was AMAZING a book that will stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait to eventually have a copy of this on my shelf.

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Excellent and unforgettable, this gripping book will keep you guessing. Maya goes to a fashion school and is hoping to be one of the top designers. When her friend Lisbeth gets involved with Oscar,whom Maya doesn’t trust, things begin to change. Maya meets Oscar’s friend, Sebastian,and finds she likes him. Maya’s mom says the gang violence is getting worse and they need to leave soon. When Maya sees something she shouldn’t have, she knows they have to leave. Maya, mama, and Sebastian make it to the border but are separated. Maya and mama end up in the same detention center but only Maya’s name is called. What happens to mama?

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Jenn DeLeon has once again written a young adult book that has universal appeal!

Maya is a teenager living in Guatemala City, happily planning for her school's upcoming fashion show. Maya creates designs from trash (known as trashion) and other found objects. She is wildly talented and a finalist in the competition that will help her to set her career in action. She shares her big dreams with her best friend, Lisbeth and her mother, Carmen, who is enthusiastically supportive of her daughter. Maya and her friends live a typical teen life...texting, hanging out in cafés and gossiping about boys. And the, one day, Lisbeth finds a boyfriend, who is a "marero," a gang member. The mareros are taking over Central America, and life in Maya's colonia is threatened with their presence. Her mother, increasingly worried, wants to move immediately to a province where their life will be less stressful. But, she agrees to wait until after the competition.

And then, things go upside down, when Maya finds herself a witness to a gang murder. Maya and her mother (and another friend, who is also implicated in the crime), have to flee Guatemala overnight. They head for the US, where they cross the border under direst of circumstances. Once in a hielera (the freezing cold and barren prison where ICE puts undocumented migrants), Maya's existence is the total opposite of the carefree and empassioned life she lived in Guatemala. The end of the book is both sad and hopeful - but to tell more would be to spoil.

DeLeon makes the streets of Guatemala City come alive with their noises, smells and colors. The reader can picture Maya as she designs and sews her creations, and roots for her all the way. The depiction of the crossing of the Rio Bravo is harrowing - as are the descriptions of the hielera -- you can almost hear the crunching of the aluminum blankets that the migrants are given. This is a story that you can read in one or two sittings - as once you get started, you won't want to put it down.

Teens of all backgrounds are bound to thoroughly enjoy this spectacular novel. Thanks to #netgalley for the ARC. This book will be published in April of 2023. Watch for it!

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