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Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In this hybrid memoir, Alberto Ledesma wonders, At what point does a long-time undocumented immigrant become an American in the making? From undocumented little boy to “hyper documented” university professor, Ledesma recounts how even now, he sometimes finds himself reverting to the child he was, recalling his father’s words: “Mijo, it doesn’t matter how good you think you ...more
Paperback, 127 pages
Published September 8th 2017 by Mad Creek Books
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Ben Truong
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life is an autobiographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Alberto Ledesma, which recounts his own experience of the immigrant experience with its tiers of risk and layers of aspiration. Alberto Ledesma holds a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and is Graduate Diversity Director in Arts and Humanities at Berkeley.

As a teacher and administrator at University of California, Berkeley, Lede
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
From the beginning of his memoir, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer, Alberto Ledesma tentatively opens up about his experience of living as an undocumented immigrant, addressing the paralyzing fears of deportation that come along with assuming this role in America; this fear consequently leads to undocumented immigrants to take on a cautious silence that hinders them from vocalizing their experiences. Ledesma expresses the sort of obligation he feels to translate his experience as an undocumented imm ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: immigrants
I always feel so bad giving a low review to a memoir, because it feels like I'm giving a low rating to the person's life story. Which in this case is not 2 stars, it's very interesting and important to learning about the life of Dreamers/DACA recipients/undocumented Americans, but is not told in a way that really shows how powerful the author's experiences are. This would be great in more of a graphic novel format with a stronger narrative, instead it's a random collection of graphics and essays ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could not WAIT to read this. I've been following Alberto Ledesma's project since he began sharing his lunch time sketches online. As this book became more and more of a reality (and as it began to converge with what's been going on in our nation politically), I got SUPER excited.

I'm currently a teacher in Oakland, and one cool thing for me is to share this piece with my kids. They're a collection of essays with really quality art spread throughout. Normally, you can't get kids to read essays (
Mala Ashok
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a poignant memoir written and illustrated bu Alberto Ledesma. Ledesma grew up as an undocumented Latino and rose from these humble beginnings to obtaining a PhD and becoming a professor in Berkley. However, he always remembers his father's words, "Mijo, it doesn't matter how good you think your English is, la migra will still get you." The poignant vignettes deal with the undocumented person's psyche and yet, Ledesma expresses some profound truths as when he says,"Confidence is the resul ...more
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a series of vignettes from the authors life told through drawings, stories and observations. While I don't really like most of the art, it is often powerfully effective and does tell the story of living undocumented in the United States and of the constant fear that is part of the fabric of the lives of those people while they strive to become included. Ledesma starts with stories from his childhood and ends with the election of Donald Trump and a powerful drawing comforting his child in ...more
This is a wonderful topic, one not well covered elsewhere. Ledesma conveys great subtlety and nuance, which is not easy to do. Unfortunately, this is not a graphic novel like I had hoped. It's a collection of drawings the author made about immigrating to the United States and being undocumented then naturalizing.

They are disjointed and not arranged in a systematic way. The section with the bulk of the drawings gives little information about them. Whereas the main section of the book has too muc
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Three stars is good right?

Pen, sweat, ink, process. This book is ugly in many ways. The page size is awkward, and the font is a horrible comic style that is arranged in two columns per page. Some of the images reveal JPEG artifacts from being enlarged. God.

The form is unique. Part memoir, part gallery, and a manuscript of a speech, this is book a juxtaposition in many ways. However, the actual content tells three or four stories that resonate and reflect each other. Though this book is short,
Emilie Jones
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I think it would have functioned more successfully as a book with separate supporting images rather than a graphic novel. That being said it was beautifully written and vital to the conversation both in understanding the past as well as approaching the reality of the current administration. Highly recommend.
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I like the sentiment and the author's attempt to start a conversation and educate about the undocumented experience but this is not quite effective. The drawings are few and far between with repetitive essays making up the bulk of the book. It is a beginning and I'd like to see what this author can do next, moreso with his drawings than with his words.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ledesma tells his own story, and those of many like him, through art, essay and speeches. I have some quibbles with the art and editing (some words are repeated so many times... couldn't someone have suggested using a synonym once in a while?) that keep this from being a five-star review.
Mercer County Library System
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Ledesma tells his own story, and those of many like him, through art, essay and speeches. Some quibbles with the art and editing keep this from being a five-star review, but it is an important story of the immigrant experience that's not often heard. (Reviewed by Sharon, Hickory Corner branch)
A simply amazing visual/textual exploration of one man’s childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood as an undocumented immigrant and eventual naturalized citizen. This is a #MustRead at any time but is particularly powerful in our current xenophobic and “zero tolerance” climate.
Edward Sullivan
A graphic memoir told in vignettes that is interesting, insightful, and often affecting, but could have been better structured.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
the alphabet book is sweet. it is part graphic novel and part essay writing.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2019
Quick quick read! Great drawings. Going to pull multiple pieces for student discussion on immigration.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Illustrated memoir by a formerly undocumented UC Berkeley professor about the importance and difficulty of telling stories of the undocumented immigrant experience. I want to read more from Ledesma!
Stephanie Beltran
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, school-readings
Love it!! Highly recommend it!
Oct 26, 2018 marked it as will-not-finish
I really appreciate where this book is coming from, but boy is it dull. Also, it’s not a graphic novel, which I felt was a real bait-and-switch.
Michael T
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Apr 03, 2019
Mills College Library
741.5973 L4736d 2017
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Jan 30, 2020
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Oct 18, 2019
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Nov 25, 2018
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