cover image We Are Not from Here

We Are Not from Here

Jenny Torres Sanchez. Philomel, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1226-1

This powerful novel by Sanchez (Because of the Sun) follows three teenagers fleeing the violence, danger, and poverty of Puerto Barrios, the Guatemalan home they simultaneously love and hate. Stirred by renewed fear of local gang leader Rey, the close-knit trio decides to make the perilous, punishing journey through the deserts of Central America to Mexico, where they can jump the freight train known as La Bestia, “an enormous steel centipede groaning and hissing to life, its power vibrating through the ground,” which they hope will deliver them to the United States. Seventeen-year-old Pequeña is desperate to escape marriage to Rey, whose son she has just borne; 15-year-old Pugla and his de facto brother, Chico, 13, have witnessed a murder. The journey ends differently for each of the three, realistically representing the variety of outcomes that refugees can experience and building a profound understanding of why so many people are driven to risk their lives in search of an uncertain future. A devastating read that is difficult to put down, this unforgettable book unflinchingly illuminates the experiences of those leaving their homes to seek safety in the United States. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency. (May)