Jane Dugger'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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May 22, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011-books-read, audio-books, denver-book-club
Read in May, 2011

** spoiler alert ** First off: don't listen to it. I've never listened to the narrator, Paula Christensen, before. She did a good job with the girls voices but was TERRIBLE with the men. Every single one sounded like they were related to JFK, especially Hickenlooper and Tancredo.

The story is very interesting and full of layers. It chronicles the journey of four Mexican young women (two with paperwork & two without, i.e. illegal)from their senior year of high school to the end of college. Thorpe also talks about other issues surrounding illegal immigration not directly related to the girls. Interesting because it is all local & I remember these stories from the newspaper but not relevant to the story of the young women.

Illegal immigration is such a multi-faceted subject. It's difficult to find a workable solution. There is part of me which feels the young people brought to America by their parents before the age of 8 should have access to in-state tuition but then I when I hear about how GIs don't qualify for in-state tuition and they ARE Americans I think perhaps we should leave the system as is. An interesting fact - there are quite a few states that do allow in-state tuition for illegal minors: California, Kansas, Utah, New Mexico and others I can't remember (and of course there are residency and other requirements they must fulfill). I was shocked about Kansas & Utah.

I don't have any experience with illegal immigration but ET (my other half) did immigrate to America. He came here on a tourist visa, then married (first wife), applied for a temporary work permit, received his green card, divorced, applied for citizenship and is now a citizen. Of course the circumstances are very different from the women documented in the book. As well the socio-economic level of ET's family is vastly different than the Mexican women.

I read this for book club and probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. And we had an interesting discussion. It would have been very cool though to brainstorm possible solutions and write a summary to our senators. I feel this topic is a federal issue & should be addressed thusly.

I wish Thorpe would have spent more time detailing the lives of the young women she followed and less on local politics. I also expected her to offer some thoughts on possible solutions. She really keeps her distance, just observes, which disappointed me. And I very much didn't like how she projected HER values onto the girls, especially Marisela. This really irritated me. **Spoiler**

Marisela becomes pregnant her senior year of college and Thorpe is aghast that she is having the baby. Thorpe implies in her commentary that Marisela will lose the value of her education and her "career options" if she has the baby. I believe your education is never wasted on raising a child. No one can take your knowledge away from you and you can pass it on to many even if you don't have an acceptable career as defined by society.

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Celticoracle That's funny - I was thinking the exact same thing about the way she did male voices. I did love listening to it otherwise, though.


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