A coming-of-age story chronicles the challenges of moving to a new land.
Nina Perez loves her life in Samana, Dominican Republic, but her mother wants her to move to Nueva York, the land of opportunity, so 15-year-old Nina immigrates to Manhattan to live with her older brother, Darrio. Adjusting to life in the United States is hard, and through her idealized descriptions of life in Samana, readers feel Nina's distress at trading her lush, tropical homeland for the concrete jungle. Though Nina is glad to reunite with Darrio, she soon begins to question his lifestyle. Deftly painting her feelings of helplessness, Joseph ensures readers sympathize with the confusion and fear that hold Nina in paralysis. The story also offers romance in the form of handsome Luis Santana. Despite her feeling something’s not quite right, Nina falls for Luis, though her reasons for doing so aren’t entirely clear, as readers aren’t privy to the majority of their conversations until late in the book. Luis’ often demanding tone toward Nina is distressing, not to mention a worrisome example.
Though imperfect, this story is a tale that needs to be told, its quiet, unflinching portrayal of a girl struggling to grow up in less-than-perfect circumstances an important one. (Fiction. 12-17)