cover image Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

Jennifer De Leon. Atheneum, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3824-8

Things are tense at home for 15-year-old Liliana Cruz: her father has been gone for weeks, her mother is increasingly depressed but won’t tell her why, and she’s recently been accepted into a program she didn’t even know her parents signed her up for: METCO, a high school “desegregation program.” Now she must wake up at 5 a.m. to catch the bus from diverse inner-city Boston to a predominantly white and wealthy suburban high school. With her distracted best friend Jade wrapped up in a new boyfriend and the other METCO kids ignoring her, Liliana has to find her own way in Westburg High. But just as she makes friends with sarcastic Holly and starts a romance with a seemingly sweet white boy named Dustin, her new equilibrium is thrown off-kilter by an incident of racism and the well-wrought, devastating revelation of where her father really is. De Leon’s debut handles issues such as immigration, deportation, assimilation, and Trump-era racial tensions in a humorous yet resonant way. Throughout, Liliana’s narration remains authentic as she finds her voice, making for a fulfilling, thoroughly contemporary read. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Aug.) [/em]