It's the typical story of middle school BFFs—all immigrants. Ridiculously, unfairly, that makes all the difference in the lives of Lola from Slovakia, Maria from Mexico and Jaya from Trinidad. The daughters of maids and nannies, these eighth graders navigate young adulthood in an upscale suburb. Though their concerns include everyday American adolescent angst (having the right dress for the dance, not doing as well in class as the mean girl), the girls also confront race and class privilege. Jaya's mother is accused of theft, Maria's cousin might be imprisoned and Lola's engineer father can't get work. A fight leaves the girls not on speaking terms at the worst possible time, as town feeling heats up against those people, the ones who play soccer instead of lacrosse and have too-large families. Though the narrative is clearly ideological (perhaps drawing on Budhos's nonfiction Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers, 1999), the heartwarming friendship overcomes any polemic. These fully realized heroines are full of heart, and their passionate struggles against systemic injustice only make them more inspiring. Keenly necessary. (Fiction. 12-15) Read full book review >
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