NEXT TO MEXICO by Jennifer Nails

NEXT TO MEXICO

Age Range: 9 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nails’s uneven debut about a friendship between two sixth-grade girls in a border town in Arizona tackles some real issues about Mexican-American immigration. Finding a friend becomes the main concern of brainy, irrepressible Lylice (rhymes with Phyllis) Martin, who has skipped fifth grade in order to attend Susan B. Anthony Middle School, where she will have to prove herself to the gruff, beleaguered new principal, Mr. Harrington. With the arrival of a foreign student, Mexico Mendoza, a gifted artist who lives with her aunt, Lylice finds a true kindred spirit, and only gradually learns about Mexico’s diabetes, which requires daily insulin injections, and the precarious state of her family’s immigration status. Occasionally clunky and abrupt, the first-person narrative leaves the reader wanting more information rather than less. Lylice’s social awkwardness becomes painfully obvious when she tries to make nice with the popular bunch (how to make a boy like you and keep your best friend?), though Lylice’s enduring compassion for Mexico and sense of moral activism render her an exemplary and very human character. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-618-96635-6
Page count: 240pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2008