cover image Illegally Yours: A Memoir

Illegally Yours: A Memoir

Rafael Agustin. Grand Central, $29 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5387-0594-0

Television writer Agustin makes a splashy debut with this humorous account of coming-of-age, undocumented, in Southern California. Born in Ecuador to two doctors, Agustin arrived in the United States in the late 1980s at age seven, only to be disappointed that the America he’d watched obsessively on TV was nowhere to be found. While his parents struggled to juggle English classes with his father’s graveyard shifts as a sleep technician, Agustin writes, “Things seemed to be worse here than they were in Ecuador.” Meanwhile, Agustin wrestled with his identity, eventually coming to learn two life-altering things while attending public school: one, that he wasn’t white, and two, that he was undocumented—a revelation, he wittily recalls, “that was like an end-of-the-world-comet hitting my frosted-tipped head.” As he reckons with being “illegal” (his family came to the U.S. on tourist visas that expired) and traces his path to finding liberation through the world of acting, and, later, TV writing, Agustin offers poignant musings on the difficulties of existing in a country where the notion of race “is mostly understood as a Black and white paradigm.” What emerges is an inspiring and often hilarious story that echoes Agustin’s mother’s refrain: “Dreams should not have borders.” Funny as he is, Agustin is a serious talent. (July)