Published by HarperCollins
Summary: Jason’s mother has told him bits and pieces of her story. He knows his parents both grew up in Afghanistan and that his father was killed while working as a translator for the U.S. Army. His mom came to the U.S. on a student visa, but after her husband died and Jason was born prematurely, both her passport and visa expired. She stayed in the U.S. illegally, dropping out of school to work in a laundromat. One day, Jason sees the police take her away from her job. The only other family he has is “Auntie” Seema, a close friend who lives in New York City. Jason takes a bus to try to find her, but all the stress causes him to faint when he gets to the city, and he winds up in the hospital. There he meets a girl named Max who is about to have brain surgery for her epilepsy. The two of them make a daring escape, traveling across the city to try to find Auntie Seema. Along the way, they sneak into the Central Park Zoo, Max has a seizure, and Jason steals a ride on a police horse. Their friendship helps both of them confront the difficulties each one is facing, and by the end they have found their way to what may be a bright future. 304 pages; grades 3-7.
Pros: Jason and Max are both sympathetic characters courageously facing difficult circumstances that seem beyond their control. There’s plenty of action as they make their journey while trying to elude a growing number of people on the lookout for them.
Cons: Some of their narrow escapes seemed a little hard to believe.