UNDER THE SAME SKY by Cynthia DeFelice


Age Range: 10 - 14
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In the course of a summer, Joe Pedersen is transformed from a self-absorbed 14-year-old to a young man willing to take risks to help others. While the implausibility of this quick transformation and some of the other plot elements present problems, DeFelice does deal successfully with contemporary issues about immigration and questions about civil disobedience at a level readers will understand. Joe’s family owns a ranch in New York State, where migrant workers do much of the farm work in order to send money back to their families in Mexico. Joe, who apparently hasn’t helped out much on the farm, makes the unlikely mistake of asking his hardworking parents for a $900 motorbike for this birthday. Instead, his father proposes Joe earn the money by laboring side-by-side with the Mexicans. As Joe gets to know Luisa, one of the workers his own age, he abandons his childish attitudes and starts to value his own lot in life. He makes a break from his racist friends and, through an act of courage, earns his father’s respect. Suspense and romance keep the story going, at the same time that DeFelice conveys the vital work of migrant workers in US agriculture and draws attention to problems with immigration policies. While not as strong as The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker (1998) or Weasel (1991) this will serve those looking for an exploration of these issues and a larger role in fiction for migrant workers who are all too ignored in literature and real life. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7th, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-38032-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2003


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