A triumphant tale about finding home.

An undocumented Pakistani teen has to grow up very quickly after her mother is suddenly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

High school senior Rania’s life changes forever when she abruptly wakes up to the news that ICE agents have arrived to arrest her mother. It’s 2019, and she, her mother, and her brother, Kamal, are living in Brooklyn as they wait to see if they will be granted asylum due to the fact that Rania’s father—a journalist in Pakistan—has gone missing. Ammi brought them to America on her own, and they’ve lived as if they might have to take off at any time. Still, gifted writer Rania has done well in school. After Kamal and Rania are taken to a shelter for unaccompanied minors, she’s horrified by the conditions around them and decides that escaping to Connecticut and getting a long-estranged uncle to care for them is their only hope. With the vital assistance of Carlos, a fellow teen and shelter resident, the siblings sneak away for the road trip of a lifetime. Budhos vividly portrays the fear and confusion many undocumented families experienced after the implementation of Trump-era asylum and immigration policies while also unflinchingly detailing the tensions and secrets within Rania’s family. As Rania learns more about her mother’s mysterious past, she realizes that solidarity and community are both essential tools for freedom as vulnerable people seek the right to a safe haven.

A triumphant tale about finding home. (author’s note, ghazal lyrics) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12020-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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