Efrén Divided

Ernesto Cisneros. HarperCollins, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-288168-7
As affecting as it is timely, Cisneros’s debut depicts how draconian U.S. immigration policies rip through one Southern California family. At the novel’s start, the Nava family lives a hardworking, loving existence—American-born Efrén, the seventh-grade narrator, is mostly concerned with the upcoming school election. But when his undocumented mother is deported after an ICE raid one afternoon, Efrén must care for his five-year-old siblings, one of whom has a learning disability, while his father works extra hours for funds to bring his mother back from Mexico. Cisneros tells this urgent story with focus and heart-wrenching realism, especially concerning the ripple effects of family separation, not just at the border but also among those in the U.S. Cisneros layers in stories of other deportees, underlining the importance of taking part in change as he portrays a community rallying around its most vulnerable members. (Efrén’s burnt-out history teacher shares cautionary tales of past exclusionary practices via Martin Niemöller’s “First they came for the socialists” poem.) If Efrén seems to shoulder burdens beyond his years with alarming maturity, he mirrors many children in this country who are forced to grow up fast. Ages 8–12. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/23/2020
Release date: 03/31/2020
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-288170-0
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