Wednesday, November 04, 2020


Medoza, Paola and Sher, Abby. Sanctuary
September 1st 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's 2032, and Vali lives with her mother and younger brother Ernie in Maine, where her mother works on a farm. Vali's mother and father came to the California with her when she was very young to escape conditions in Colombia. When the US started to crack down on immigration and installed microchips in all citizens, Vali and her mother got counterfeit chips, but her father did not. At one point, he is caught by the Deportation Force and sent back to Colombia, where he was brutally murdered. Even though life in Maine can be difficult, Vali is glad to be able to go to school, hang out with her friend Kenna, and try to forget her past. When an incident at the ever growing border wall causes the government to cut off most news sources and escalate the rounding up of people without documents, the family starts to worry. When the Deportation Force takes away everyone at the farm where the mother works, and she narrowly escapes by chance, they know they must leave. California decides to secede in order to become a sanctuary, and since an aunt lives there, the three start out in the middle of the night. The mother gives Vali instructions to hunt down a nun in New York City if things go wrong, and they unfortunately do. At a check point, the mother's chip won't read, and she is taken away. Vali and Ernie set off on an arduous journey to the city, trying to get rides on buses but finding them unsafe. They find the nun, who decides to help them get to California with the help of a coyote. Halfway through the trip, things go badly, and Vali and Ernie set out with a few others on a harrowing trip to California. Will they be able to make it? 
Strengths: This is such an accurate reflection of the way the world is going right now that I hesitate to classify it as "speculative fiction". The treatment of undocumented immigrants, the power of the Deportation Force, the horrible raids, the increasing walls-- this seems like the news right now. Five years ago, this would have seemed unlikely (and similar to Weyn's Barcode Tattoo, with updated technology), but as I'm reading this, unmarked forces are forcing Portland citizens into unmarked cars and detaining them. Vali's efforts to save her brother and get them both to safety are timely, and the story is riveting. This is a Young Adult, high octane, Dystopian version of Ciscernos' Efren Divided
Weaknesses: About halfway into the book, the situation becomes very dire for Vali, and there are a lot of f-bombs and some threats of sexual violence. 
What I really think: This would be a great companion to Ahmed's Internment (2019) for use by high school classes that want to build empathy and think about cautionary tales!
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I hope this isn't what the world comes to! Scary. The immigration situation is heartbreaking. Have you read THE LAND OF THE CRANES by Aida Salazar? It's a MG novel-in-verse about Mexican immigrants in California. It's a quick read but wow, very impactful. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I read it weeks ago.