Published by Quill Tree Books
Summary: Efrén calls his mom Soperwoman, both because of the delicious sopes she makes for him and his 5-year-old twin brother and sister, and because of all the ways she makes his family’s life work. Amá and Apá both work long hours to afford the one-room apartment the family shares, but Efrén and his siblings always go to school with neatly pressed clothing and homemade lunches. But one day Amá doesn’t come home from work, and the family learns she has been deported to Mexico. Suddenly 12-year-old Efrén must take care of everything at home while Apá works round the clock to try to bring Amá home. Since Apá is also undocumented, it falls to Efrén to cross the border into Tijuana to give Amá the money she needs. His trip there reveals both the desperate conditions of the people living there and the near-impossiblity of Amá making it back to the U.S. There’s not a fairy-tale ending for Efrén and his family, but he discovers he has some of his parents’ strength and becomes determined to speak out about their situation. 272 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: I love the cover of this book, yet I still hope that future editions will have part of it obscured by a number of medal stickers, including the Newbery and Pura Belpré. Efrén’s voice is honest, his family’s resilience is inspiring, and many readers will learn about a desperate situation all too familiar to a large number of American kids.
Cons: A quick review of the contemporary middle grade novels I’ve reviewed this year reveals kids dealing with the following issues: homelessness (2); bullying (2 because of homophobia, 2 because of racism, and 1 due to health issues); child abuse (2); sexual harassment (4); and parents in jail, murdered by a random shooter, and now, getting deported. Welcome to 2020 America.