Budhos's (Ask Me No Questions) sensitive exploration of immigrant lives focuses on eighth graders Jaya, Lola, and Maria, who are from Trinidad, Slovakia, and Mexico, respectively. They bond over the everyday conflicts and humiliations that come with being cultural outsiders and the daughters of maids in suburban New Jersey. Shy Jaya and her strong-willed mother, Mrs. Lal, do housekeeping for Mrs. Harmon, but when the elderly employer has a stroke, Mrs. Lal is accused of stealing, and Jaya and her mother face having to move. Meanwhile, Jaya worries that "she'd always be here, attached to her mother, picking up stray socks, serving chicken nuggets, and mopping floors while other kids could go out into the world and be themselves." Lola is bold and intelligent but, under pressure to run the household, she acts out at school; Maria wants to date popular Tash, but is cognizant of the racism that keeps them apart. As the girls struggle to assimilate, they drift apart, eventually recognizing the value of supportive community. The intricate characters and skillfully intertwined plots result in a convincing depiction of families overcoming isolation. Ages 12–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 08/23/2010 Release date: 05/01/2010 Genre: Children's
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