Kate Lawrence's Reviews > Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America

Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe
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Jun 11, 2010

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bookshelves: biography, book-club
Read from June 11 to 23, 2010

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 which they are otherwise highly qualified. Their families move frequently, depending on low-wage work under the shadow of possible deportation. The mother of one of the girls goes back to Mexico voluntarily, leaving her children behind, to avoid being sentenced for an identity theft she committed in order to get a job at Goodwill.
The girls are likable, smart, highly educated, and motivated, yet continually run up against the system. The fact that they have lived all their lives in the U.S. doesn't matter. Their two friends, just like them except that they were born here, face none of these restrictions.
My interest was increased by the fact that the setting is Denver, where I live, and the author is the wife of Denver's popular mayor, John Hickenlooper, now running for governor. Just Like Us puts human faces on immigration, and is one more aid to understanding this extremely complex issue.
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