cover image Sanctuary


Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher. Putnam, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1571-2

An unforgiving landscape punctuates an undocumented teen’s arduous journey to escape government persecution and find a safe haven in this searing near-future dystopian novel. For 16-year-old Colombian immigrant Valentina “Vali” González Ramirez, a life of safety and security hinges on a black-market implant “no bigger than a grain of rice.” In the year 2032, the U.S.—in the middle of an economic downturn—exerts considerable control over its population through censorship, xenophobic propaganda, and frequent scans of mandatory ID chips. Vali, who lost her father due to cruel deportation policies enacted by ICE, depends on a fake chip to avoid detection. When an incident at the U.S.-Mexico border leads to increased security measures and violence, Vali and her family attempt the dangerous trek from Vermont to a newly seceded California—and freedom. Coauthors Mendoza and Sher do delicate work, using Vali’s interior life and a speculative lens to lay bare the trauma and anguish that migrants to the U.S. can experience as well as the human capacity for survival. Though the novel’s unflinching honesty and real-world parallels deliver uncomfortable truths, its propulsive narrative and its message of hope and resilience will carry readers through. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)