Vargas, Jose Antonio. Dear America: The Story of an Undocumented Citizen. Biography. HarperCollins, 2019. 130pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-291459-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-8.
Pulitzer-prize-winning author Jose Antonio Vargas opens this young-reader version of his autobiography with a brief introduction that explains that, as we read, his legal status in this country is not secure, and that after “twenty-five years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.” Simple, descriptive, and at times almost detached prose covers his arrival in the U.S. from the Philippines at age 12, unaware of his undocumented status, and the fact that it would keep him from seeing his mother again thus far. Vargas’ description of his discovery of his status and his family’s choices provide a vivid sense of the on-going mental and emotional stress of trying to find a way to legally remain in a country one considers his own, but whose government makes it clear he has no value or status. At a time when immigration has become a battlefield, this book is a valuable firsthand dispatch from the field and challenging readers to find a way of defining human beings beyond “legal” and “undocumented.”
Lesley Mandros Bell, Oakland Library Advisory Commission