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SANCTUARY by Paola Mendoza Kirkus Star


by Paola Mendoza & Abby Sher

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-984815-71-2
Publisher: Putnam

An immigrant family travels across the country to escape persecution.

Valentina González Ramirez, a teenage Colombian immigrant living in Southboro, Vermont, still remembers when the president won his third term and started building the Great American Wall between California and Mexico, implanting ID chips in people, and increasing deportation raids. It was in one of those raids that her father was captured and returned to Colombia, where he was murdered. After years of living in relative calm in Vermont, Vali and her family see a live-feed of a land mine exploding under the feet of a skinny girl in a worn Mickey Mouse T-shirt as she tries to cross the heavily guarded territory between Mexico and the U.S. Soon Vali’s world changes forever. Violent raids, increased security measures on ID chips, and California’s seceding to become a sanctuary push Vali, her mother, and her 8-year-old brother, Ernie, to embark on a journey to California and freedom. Mendoza and Sher’s novel is set in a not-so-distant dystopian future in which the government controls the broadcasting system and censors the media. In their portrayal of Vali’s family’s quest for safety, the authors beautifully mirror the treacherous, painful, and terrifying treks involving natural and human threats that migrants to the U.S. undertake as they traverse continents and oceans. Gruesome at times and always honest, Vali’s journey depicts immigrants’ desire for a safe and dignified life.

Wrenching and unmissable.

(authors’ note) (Dystopian. 13-18)