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Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America
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Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,519 Ratings  ·  330 Reviews
Written by a gifted journalist, a powerful account of four young Mexican women coming of age in Denver—two of whom have legal documentation, two of whom who don’t— and the challenges they face as they attempt to pursue the American dream.

 Just  Like  Us takes readers on a compelling journey with four  young  Mexican-American  women  who  have  lived in  the  U.S.  since  c
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Scribner (first published 2009)
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Clif Hostetler
This book takes the hot button issue of illegal immigration and examines it up close and personal, from every side including inside and out. The author describes the lives and experiences of four girls of Mexican heritage from high school through college; Two lack legal status, the other two have papers (i.e. legal and have path toward citizenship). The book also covers the surrounding political environment of 2005 through 2009 in Denver, Colorado when the illegal immigration issue exploded beca ...more
Gary
Nov 18, 2013 Gary rated it did not like it
Sucks. Poorly written. If repetition is the award of the day this author gets top honors. I am only half way through this book, trudging my way through it.....and to be honest, it makes me less sympathetic,and less interested in illegal aliens due to the poor writing this is. It is a bookclub choice,and we will be discussing this on the upcoming Friday. I will have to refrain from saying much ;I hate it so much. I doubt I will seriously change my mind when I finish this. It's a road through hell ...more
K
Apr 04, 2010 K rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: someone interested in exploring the issues around illegal immigration
Recommended to K by: M
In “Just Like Us,” Helen Thorpe attacks the complicated issue of illegal immigration from a variety of angles. Primarily, she focuses on the lives of four motivated young girls of Mexican background – two legal (one U.S.-born, one carrying a bona fide green card), two illegal – struggling to finish college in an attempt to better their situations. The two illegal girls came over the border from Mexico with their parents at a young age, and are reaping the consequences in terms of inability to ge ...more
Amanda
May 13, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: journalism
I was pleasantly drawn into this true story of the four (really, three) girls, struggling from high school to college graduation here in Denver. As illegal immigrants, they face what so many of my students face, and their plight makes the struggle that I faced, as a teacher of those students while they were in middle school, that much more real. Of course most illegal students will see their lives as educational dead ends; it's amazing that these students did not. Illegal immigrants, especially ...more
Richard Conlin
Feb 27, 2010 Richard Conlin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in American life
When I hear a book is 'heartbreaking' I am usually pretty leery of it -- suspect it is overly sentimental or maudlin. But that word sometimes applies to this deeply engrossing account of four Latina teenagers growing up in Denver. The insight into adolescence in contemporary Latina society alone might be an interesting story, but the kicker is that they have very different immigration status, and that makes huge differences in what these four bright ambitious girls can do. If you do not have leg ...more
Sandy Guire
Nov 18, 2013 Sandy Guire rated it did not like it
This book did make me aware of a lot of the complexities of immigration issues and some of the politics behind those issues. That being said, this book was absolutely painful to read. Had it not been something we are going to discuss in book club, I am not sure I would have finished the book. Clearly, being a journalist does not necessarily mean that will make a person a good author.

I found early parts of the book difficult to follow, as the timeline was not linear. The author chose to insert in
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Maureen
Apr 09, 2010 Maureen rated it liked it
I liked the biography aspect of the book, and the author's attempt to help us understand what it feels like to be a Mexican immigrant (documented and not)in America today, but I finished feeling unsatisfied. First, it struck me as highly improbable that all the girls received full scholarships to excellent schools. I think that the author's involvement in their lives must have caused some of that to happen (good for the girls, not so realistic for most immigrant kids). The author tried very hard ...more
JoBeth
Jan 10, 2013 JoBeth rated it it was amazing
There are a few books like Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America and A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League that I feel everyone in the United States needs to read to understand the political and social complexities and challenges of this country. Just Like Us is one of those books. Helen Thorpe follows the lives of four Mexican born high school girls for five years; two of them are documented, two undocumented. She writes about their lives in th ...more
Rebecca
Nov 19, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Helen Thorpe does a masterful job of capturing the complexities of the immigration debate in America today. As a Denver native, a DPS high school graduate (the same school as the girls in the book in fact) and a University of Denver graduate, I saw many of my friends in this book. I was in my last year at DU when these girls started their freshmen year and while I don't know them personally, I know many people that have had to struggle with the same issues of identity and uncertainty. I know of ...more
Liralen
In Just Like Us, Thorpe follows a small group of Mexican(-American) girls through their last years of high school in the U.S. and into college. Ostensibly, there are four girls in the focus—two of whom are documented and two of whom are not—but in practical terms, one girl drops off the radar when her path diverges somewhat from that of the other three.

To complicate the story, though, Thorpe pulls back to look at immigration reform—mostly in Colorado, where the girls are based, but also in the U
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Jane Dugger
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ashley
Jul 30, 2016 Ashley rated it liked it
This was another choice for my office’s equity and social justice book club. I’m really happy that it was picked, as it covers the topic of immigration to the US. Specifically, it focuses on the challenges those without documentation face as they make their way out of high school and try to figure out what options are available. I think I would have preferred a book written by one of these women, though, which factors into my three-star rating.

Author Ms. Thorpe is a journalist who was also marri
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Shana
Sep 26, 2012 Shana rated it really liked it
At my mother’s urging, I finally read Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, by Helen Thorpe (who just happens to be married to Mayor Hickenlooper of Denver). According to my mother, this is her top non-fiction pick of 2009, and it’s easy to see why. The writing is good, the story is compelling, and it’s on a thought-provoking topic.

Thorpe spends several years in close contact with four Mexican girls living in the Denver area. Two of the girls are legally in
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Kate Lawrence
Jun 11, 2010 Kate Lawrence rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, book-club
My awareness of the immigration issue had not, before I read this book, extended to what it must be like for the teenage children of undocumented workers. These young people, like two of the four girls profiled here, are prevented by their illegal status from getting driver's licenses, obtaining health insurance, traveling by air, applying for college scholarships or qualifying for in-state tuition or work-study programs, and ultimately, after they are out of college, from getting good jobs for ...more
Jamie
Oct 22, 2011 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Thorpe's book offers a broad, yet deep, perspective on the immigration issue through the personal stories of four Mexican girls: two documented, two undocumented. The details about the four girls' lives are illuminating, frustrating, compelling. As one of the blurbs on the back of the book says, the immigration debate would be vastly different if more people were to read this book or ones like it.

Thorpe focuses a lot on the two girls who are undocumented: Marisela and Yadira. They defy the stere
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Chivon
Jun 09, 2011 Chivon rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, I wasn't sure what to expect other than what the title suggested, but based on the title I thought the girls were the only subject of the book. I was surprised to find out that the whole legal issue of immigration, immigration policy, and a horrific tragedy involving a Denver police officer were also central to the whole book.

During the middle of the book I got somewhat bored of all the legislative type of stuff. I felt that the book focused at times too much on that a
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Alla
Jan 22, 2016 Alla rated it really liked it
This book was an eye-opener for me. I have never given much thought to how life is different for people who came to the United States illegally and are, therefore, undocumented. I have not been aware of such impediments as not being able to travel by plane, or carrying a fake ID, or not getting timely medical care. It seems especially unfair that young people who were brought here by their parents and grew up in the United States have to live this way.
The book spotlights four girls and their ex
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Carmen
Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it did not like it
1.5 Stars

Although meticulously researched, I found that I was slogging through this book. Thorpe followed four young Mexican women from their senior year in high school through their undergraduate careers in Colorado. Although their stories were very interesting, the whole reading experience is weighed down by excessive and unnecessary detail lessening the impact. She is reluctant to leave out a single detail while painting a portrait of the larger political climate concerning undocumented and i
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Rebecca Cohen
Aug 13, 2010 Rebecca Cohen rated it liked it
My friend Sarah recommended this book to me. It was quite good and easy to read. The protagonists of the book were wonderful. You were definitely rooting for them the whole time. It also offers a fascinating look into the practical day to day difficulties that exist for those without status in the U.S. Though, I found the author, the Mayor's wife, to be irritating. I especially got annoyed with her at the end of the book when she made these distinctions between Americans and Mexicans that were b ...more
Megan
May 02, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
I loved this book and found it so interesting. Author Thorpe set out to write about the American experience of four Mexican high school girls living in Denver, two of whom were legal and two were here illegally. Each girl was high achieving and wanted to attend college.

As the author followed these girls, she herself got pulled into the story. Her husband became mayor of Denver (Hickenlooper). A Denver cop was murdered by an illegal. Tom Tancredo ran for US president. Although the author did sho
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Evelin
Jan 07, 2013 Evelin rated it really liked it
Marisela,Yadira, Elissa,and Clara four girls chasing a dream. Marisela and Yadira facing a obstacle of not having the opportunity as the other two girls of having a education . All of this girls having the same fear that one day they are going to be separate from the most important persons in their life's. Every day they wake up they have to fight agains all does obstacles they face every day and they have to fight against what other say about them . Marisela, Yadira,Elissa, and Clara fighting f ...more
Christine
Sep 03, 2012 Christine rated it did not like it
OMG, I hated this book. And I was the one who recommended it for our book club. I was hoping it would open my mind to the intricacies of the plight of illegal aliens. It was supposed to be written in a non-bias format, but I found the author, Helen Thorpe – the wife of the democratic mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper – was anything but. We get to see our broken legal system at work, how illegal aliens get assistance to go to college – in essence taking the spots of our own American students. Sh ...more
Rae
Jan 24, 2013 Rae rated it it was amazing
Read this for my History Colorado book group. I highly recommend. Tells the story of four girls in Denver, best friends, graduating from high school and through their college years. All are from Mexican families. One was born in the U.S.; she's "legal." One came to the U.S. as a small child and eventually got her green card. The other two are "illegal." One came when just a few months old, the when she was seven. How their legal status affects their lives, the lives of their families is a true e ...more
Sarah
Jan 20, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
This was an eye-opening book about the struggles facing four Mexican girls who were brought to the United States when they were small children. Two have papers, two are undocumented. For the two undocumented girls, it shows the heartbreaking obstacles they must fight to overcome just to have a future, all because of choices made for them when they were small children. And the pain and hopelessness they must endure because they have no legal way to get a green card. This book provides human faces ...more
Erica
Feb 17, 2012 Erica rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommendations
This really is a great book to read to understand the human-side of the immigration debate. It could have been better if Thorpe inserted some more facts and data about immigration in general, but I think the book is very thought-provoking as it is. The book takes place in the mid-2000s and, unfortunately, it is just as relevant and topical today.
Bea Elwood
May 24, 2011 Bea Elwood rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
This was one of those books you wanted to finish because you wanted to know what happened to these wonderful people, like good friends I want an update on how they are doing. Seriously thinking about buying a copy for everybody I work with...
Jo Shander
Mar 09, 2010 Jo Shander rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Great topic.
Jackie
Mar 11, 2017 Jackie rated it it was amazing
I read this for my feminism book club for the month of March. I will be honest, I was hesitant about this one because I have never had strong liberal or conservative views on immigration. Granted, it's not an area I'm particularly passionate about, as I am privileged in that I don't have a ton of people in my life who are immigrants. However, I ended up truly enjoying this. Thorpe has a lovely writing style that really loans itself to nonfiction writing. It read almost like a fiction novel, but ...more
Tamara
Jul 28, 2012 Tamara rated it really liked it
For a long time I wanted to read Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, and I'm glad I finally made the time. Although I have life experience with immigration issues, even with undocumented children and first-generation American children, I learned how much more complex the issues are than I had imagined. I specifically remember many of the events referenced in the book, the special legislative session, Tom Tancredo's inflammatory rhetoric regarding immigrat ...more
Jill Black
Mar 08, 2017 Jill Black rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent look into the immigration issues that we are dealing with today.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Helen Thorpe is a freelance journalist whose magazine stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, New York , George, Westword, and 5280.

Born in London, she grew up in Medford, New Jersey. She has worked as a staff writer for The New York Observer; The New Yorker,
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