DO NOT PASS GO

Deet’s parents are happy-go-lucky and financially irresponsible, so he compensates by being compulsively organized and extremely judgmental. Early on, his dad is working a second job to help pay bills and gets arrested for possessing drugs to help him stay alert. Initially, Deet is utterly mortified and embarrassed. His mother gets a job and Deet realizes he has to go visit his dad in jail, a terrifying prospect. Many visits later, Deet undergoes a transformation. He learns not to be contemptuous of the prisoners—a number of schoolmates have relatives there—and he realizes that the most unexpected people can be the most thoughtful. Hill is an expressive writer who realistically conveys this boy’s journey from superiority to kindness. She renders the criminals as real people, noting that illiteracy is at the root of many objectionable behaviors. Unfortunately, in a story where the whole tenet is not to judge a book by its cover, frequent snide remarks about overweight people seem out of place and cloud the moral. Still, this powerful character study, where everyone in Deet’s family grows, shows that Hill has a gift for quietly but realistically portraying the journey. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2007

ISBN: 1-4169-1400-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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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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ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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