UNDER THE SAME SKY

In the course of a summer, Joe Pedersen is transformed from a self-absorbed 14-year-old to a young man willing to take risks to help others. While the implausibility of this quick transformation and some of the other plot elements present problems, DeFelice does deal successfully with contemporary issues about immigration and questions about civil disobedience at a level readers will understand. Joe’s family owns a ranch in New York State, where migrant workers do much of the farm work in order to send money back to their families in Mexico. Joe, who apparently hasn’t helped out much on the farm, makes the unlikely mistake of asking his hardworking parents for a $900 motorbike for this birthday. Instead, his father proposes Joe earn the money by laboring side-by-side with the Mexicans. As Joe gets to know Luisa, one of the workers his own age, he abandons his childish attitudes and starts to value his own lot in life. He makes a break from his racist friends and, through an act of courage, earns his father’s respect. Suspense and romance keep the story going, at the same time that DeFelice conveys the vital work of migrant workers in US agriculture and draws attention to problems with immigration policies. While not as strong as The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker (1998) or Weasel (1991) this will serve those looking for an exploration of these issues and a larger role in fiction for migrant workers who are all too ignored in literature and real life. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-38032-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. 

Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. 

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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THE TEQUILA WORM

Sofia, growing up in an urban Latino neighborhood in McAllen, Texas, has a chance to attend an expensive boarding school in Austin on scholarship. Like her father, Sofia lives the life of the mind, rich with story and possibility. How can she convince her mother to let her take this opportunity? By learning to dance and showing her that she can leave home and still learn to become a good comadre. Canales, the author of the story collection Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), is a graduate of Harvard Law School, suggesting that Sofia’s story at least closely parallels her own. She is an accomplished storyteller, though not yet, perhaps, a successful novelist. The episodic narrative has disconcerting leaps in time at the beginning, and a sense of completion, or a moral displayed, at several points throughout—all lacking the tension to carry the reader forward. This said, the characters and setting are so real to life that readers who connect with Sofia at the start will find many riches here, from a perspective that is still hard to find in youth literature. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-74674-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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