Thursday, July 26, 2012

Illegal Review

Author: Bettina Restrepo
Release date: March 8, 2011
Pages: 272
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
How I got it: For review from publisher 

A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .

Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceaÑera. 
Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience.
Bettina Restrepo tackled a controversial and topical issue here in the US with compassion and grace in Illegal. It should make some people look at said issue in a new light, and for that I'm grateful.

The world in Illegal is so far removed from my own that I may as well have been reading a fantasy. Every day is a struggle for Nora and her mother, in so many more ways than one. It definitely made me appreciate the good job my father has and my 
refrigerator full of food.  Because of this, I felt like the whole "oh no gangs" plot-line seemed realistic but as a whole irrelevant and unnecessary. I thought the book's original storyline was strong enough without it, but I digress.

Nora was a resilient, persistent character that never gave up. I totally admire her. There are few main characters that don't literally beat paranormal creatures or kill people in an arena but still manages to be a strong heroine, and Nora was one of them. Aside for Nora, I didn't really connect with anyone else, sadly. 
The side characters were a kind of bland.

I definitely feel like this is an important book, but I didn't  fall in love with it. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the subject of illegal immigration and looking to see it through the eyes of the immigrant. I'd be a little hesitant to recommend it to anyone just looking for a solid contemporary read.
Plot: Something I'd never read about before, though the original story seemed to get a little muddled somewhere along the line.
Pace: Kind of slow.
Characters: Liked Nora a lot, but everyone else seemed very one-dimensional.
Writing: Pretty good.
Ending: Good.
Mature content: Some mentions of gang violence, and Nora and her mother's travel to America was pretty intense, but that's it.
If it were something I was interested in talking about, I'd probably put down the book to discuss it with someone.
Illegal had a strong idea and a great main character, but unfortunately its execution was lacking.
Other reviews:


  1. I can't wait to try this one. Great honest review.

  2. I'm not sure I'll be reading this one as the subject matter is something I have strong opinions about but great review. I have heard that the characters (except Nora) were flat.

  3. Ah! What a unique premise! I'm sad it didn't do it for you... it sounds like it could have been really intriguing but I thought your review was very fair.

  4. This does sound like a good topic to be focused on and you're right, it's universal.

    Nora sounds like a great main character and it sounds like she really made this story.


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