*Published September 1, 2020*
I received this ARC from NetGalley. This in no way affects my thoughts on the book or the following review.
This book knows just how to shine a lot of what is happening in the United States and it does not hold back its punches.
Co-founder of the Women’s March makes her YA debut in a near future dystopian where a young girl and her brother must escape a xenophobic government to find sanctuary.
It’s 2032, and in this near-future America, all citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked–from buses to grocery stores. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Vali is doing. She and her family have carved out a stable, happy life in small-town Vermont, but when Vali’s mother’s counterfeit chip starts malfunctioning and the Deportation Forces raid their town, they are forced to flee.
Now on the run, Vali and her family are desperately trying to make it to her tía Luna’s in California, a sanctuary state that is currently being walled off from the rest of the country. But when Vali’s mother is detained before their journey even really begins, Vali must carry on with her younger brother across the country to make it to safety before it’s too late.
Gripping and urgent, co-authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher have crafted a narrative that is as haunting as it is hopeful in envisioning a future where everyone can find sanctuary.
I will say that this book doesn’t hold anything back as it tells the story of Vali, Ernie, and their mother as they seek to create a new and happy life in the United States. As immigrants, Vali and her mother have illegal chips implanted in them. Ernie was born on American soil, making him an American citizen. But when California decides to secede from the rest of the United States and become a sanctuary state for all those in the United States without legal chips, a war between the citizens of the United States and the government starts.
As Vali and Ernie make their way to New York, they are separated from their mother, her chip malfunctioning. They must leave her behind and Vali tries to keep her younger brother’s spirits up by saying their mother will meet them in New York. Once there though, it is obvious she won’t be meeting them there and they have to continue making their way to California on their own. As they do, they are chased at every turn by the Deportation Force and just about everyone else who would see them out of the lives of clean Americans.
This is a very real look into what our future as the United States of America could be like if we don’t take action now. This is what scares me about the United States is that the beginnings of this story is happening right now. And this is why this book is as hard hitting as it is. Because it is already happening. We need to take our own action to make sure it doesn’t come to the point where we are chipping people to keep track of illegal immigrants or not. We need to use our voices to speak up and to be heard about what we as a people think the United States should be, not what a government that doesn’t care thinks the United States should be.
I try to not be political about what I read and I try not to be political in my writings. This is what our lives are turning to though and so now is a time to speak up. What do you do when a book strikes a little too close to home? How do you respond to books that have political leanings? Maybe don’t answer this one, but do think about it. You should be thinking quite a lot on what you are doing to do come November.