When she was 8 years old, Emilia DeJesus was brutally assaulted.
She says that she was saved by crows and acted like a bird in order to protect herself. Now 16, Latina (half-Mexican and half-Salvadoran) Emilia longs to put the attack behind her and be “normal.” She lives with her mother, Nina, and her brother, Tomás; her father, Sam, unable to handle the aftermath of Emilia’s attack, left the family. As a coping mechanism, Emilia envisions her father living in Alaska, figuratively freezing him in time. During intimate moments with her boyfriend, Ian, Emilia stiffens up and has flashbacks to her traumatic incident, causing difficulties for their relationship, as he is unsure of how best to support her. She is certain of the identity of her attacker, who has spent the last several years in prison, but something happens that leads her to question the validity of her memories. Meanwhile, the elementary school Emilia went to is going to be bulldozed, and she begins to sneak out of the house to hide out in an old classroom, somewhere she feels safe. Sanchez (Because of the Sun, 2017, etc.) deftly shows the long-lasting impact of the assault by switching between multiple characters’ points of view, although some perspectives feel extraneous to the story.
An intimate and tragic look at how traumatic incidents affect individuals, their families, and others around them. (Fiction. 14-18)