Wednesday, December 29, 2010

First Review! YA Fiction - Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo is a realistic fiction young adult book. It's about a fourteen-year-old girl, Nora, who lives with her mother and grandmother in a Mexican town dying from drought and a depression. Like many of the men in the town, her father has left the family farm to find work in America. He's been gone for three years, but he promises to be back in time for Nora's quinceanera, and he sends money to the family to help them get through the poor economic times. When the money stops coming and there's no word from her father, however, Nora and her mother begin to worry. Has something happened to him? And what do they do when there's no money for food or to pay bills? So they decide to cross the border, illegally, into America, leaving Nora's grandmother behind to try to salvage the farm. Hopefully they can find Nora's father, and Nora can also get an education so she can come back to Mexico to save her town.

But crossing the border is even tougher than they think. They don't have enough money, and the ride in a fruit truck almost kills them. When they finally arrive in Texas, Nora and her mother face even more problems: where to get papers, how to avoid the immigration authorities, where to get jobs...and there's still that nagging question, "Where's Nora's father?"

I enjoyed reading Illegal. I haven't run across many good books for kids about illegal immigration, and with all the recent controversy over immigration, it's an issue that everyone needs to know at least a little something about. Restrepo is a decent author, and for the most part her novel is well-written. There were only a few places where I feel like she could have explained more or added extra detail. The majority of the characters were well-developed and realistic, and I was easily sucked into Nora's story. So even if Illegal isn't one of the absolute best books out there, it's short, it has a good point, and it warrants a nice, quick read.

This ARC was received from Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins) through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

Illegal goes on sale March 8, 2011.


  1. Susie, you have a varied and awesome site and I really appreciate the candid review.

    During the editing process, we cut the manuscript down by 75 pages so to make things go faster.

    Life of Pi is one of my favorite books too!

  2. Thank you for visiting my blog and becoming a follower!

    The 75 pages that were cut would explain why there were two or three little details that could have been developed a bit more. :)

  3. I want to read this book so bad, any chance you'd like to swap? I have Demon Trapper's Daughter, and Across the Universe ARCs (I know nothing fancy haha)