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The Undocumented Americans

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  41 reviews
One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by One World
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Paris (parisperusing)
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In two years, America took three of my beloveds: all grandmothers. I remember the aisles pouring in with mourners at the first funeral, how I could not look my cousins in their bloodshot eyes, could not quell their pain with my own. Those eyes, warm with loss, found me the following year as I watched my grandmother, wracked with grief, buckle over her own mothers casket, murmuring in tongues. The third came in the fall, days after my 27th birthday: cancer, terminal, Grannys atrophied I love yous ...more
Karen (idleutopia_reads)
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Language can often fail us and can be manipulated to present a one-dimensional view of our life and those in our community. It then becomes jarring to see these depictions and realize that they dont match the world youve seen, lived and loved. In this way, The Undocumented Americans comes into our purview to highlight the nuances that we know exist contradicting the headlines that constantly bombard us. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio takes her empathy, her desire to help, her experience as a child ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the publisher for the free review copy

I am not a journalist. Journalists are not allowed to get involved the way I have gotten involved. Journalists, to the best of my knowledge, do not try to change the outcome of their stories as crudely as I do. I send water. I fight with immigration lawyers. I raise money. I make arrangements with supernatural spirits to stop deportations. I try to solve shit the way an immigrants kids try to solve shit for their parent because these people are
Never Without a Book
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is everything!!!! A must read!
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Undocumented Americans is upfront and unflinching about what it is going to give you - the story of everyday people who are trying to live their lives without the security of documented status. It paints a vivid picture of the ways in which our nation is all too ready to take advantage of the strengths that undocumented Latinx folks bring but also readily deport them. Cornejo Villavicencio captures the pain that it creates and how our policies have perpetuated a cycle of trauma. This should, ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Netgalley and One World Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The backbone of American is built on immigrants coming to this country. The majority of Americans can date their ancestry back to other countries making their ancestors immigrants in the U.S. at one point. We are so easy to forget where are forefathers came from. With the current political climate and the hatred towards immigrants, The Undocumented Americans is a MUST read.

Karla Cornejo
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Random House Publishing and Net Galley for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

"How many years have you spent in this country? How often do you have nightmares?"

In The Undocumented Americans, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio paints an honest portrait of older undocumented Americans, the parts of their lives we don't see on our nightly news stations or our movie screens. Throughout the multifaceted ethnography, we meet the undocumented workers who cleaned 9/11 and must suffer the health hazards,
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, fir this free review copy.

The Undocumented Americans is a raw look at what it is like to live in America. I know words will fail me when I try to write this review, as I am a white American, and my immigrant parents, are also white.

Growing up on a dairy farm, most of my dads employees were Mexican. I'm sure a huge majority of them were here illegally, but it is not something that was brought up. I always listened to their stories and played with their
Jessica Darden
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brace yourself for the impact this book will have on you. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio gives us raw and unapologetic writing about undocumented individuals in this country. She relays stories of those she built relationships with throughout the years while linking her own experiences of being undocumented. She gives you hard truths and research that will make you angry at the immigration system we have in this country.

At some points you will feel dread. Youll ask, what can be done to fix this?
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are very few books I read as rapidly as I did THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio.

I love nonfiction that reads like fiction (EVICTED or THREE WOMEN come to mind)... true stories told through a literary lens. These vignettes of undocumented Americans span the US - from New York City to rural Ohio to Miami to Flint, Michigan - but what I loved most was the author adds herself into the narrative, with glimpses into her relationships with those shes interviewing, her
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS; Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Thank you OneWorld and Netgalley for an advanced copy!
This book needs to be on your reading list for 2020! Go pre-order, its out on 3/24/2020! I chose this book for a reading prompt A book by a woman that inspires me. And Karla has done that and then some! I can tell you its definitely in my top 10 for the year! Karla was the first undocumented immigrant to graduate from Harvard, and she weaves together these stories in such a way that
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio writes in this honest, conversational, sometimes funny, sometimes dark, tone that immediately draws you into her book, and takes you on her journey. The Undocumented Americans is her story of travelling around the US and collecting stories from undocumented immigrants in different communities. But it is also her story of self-discovery, of understanding her parents and their choices, and I loved how intertwined these stories are in the book, how intertwined all of our ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and One World for my free digital advanced copy! All opinions are my own.

This stark, candid book releases tomorrow, March 24, and I urge you to order it from your local indie bookstore. The author tells her own immigrant story, weaving in experiences of others from around the country. It's giving me a lot to think about, and I'm so glad that this book exists. If one benefit of reading is to cultivate empathy, and that is a priority for you, I encourage you to pick up this
Jill Dobbe
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Villavicencio writes in support of undocumented Americans in this honest and timely expose. Coming from a similar background, she writes from her own experiences and those of her father, about the treatment and marginalization of undocumented people by U.S. citizens and the U.S. government.

True stories about real people are written throughout the book. The personal accounts are painful to read about and I couldn't help but wonder how people could be treated in such a manner, undocumented or
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is an uncut gem giving us the rawest glimpse into the lives of undocumented immigrants. She gives a voice to the abused, unwanted and mistreated. She sheds light on racism many of us like to pretend doesnt exist. She is here to destroy all of your assumptions, educate you and she is not backing down.

I personally subscribe to Dr. Kings definition of an unjust law as being out of harmony with the moral law. And the higher moral law here is that people have a human
Lori Andersen
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Raw and intimate account into some of the challenging experiences undocumented Americans face while living in the US. I loved everything about this book- the way it made me think, feel, and reconsider.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
What a moving book. It was painful to read at times, but I couldn't stop reading it. I loved how the author didn't "remain objective" and put herself in there - the way she connected with the people she interviewed is what made this book so powerful. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
Shari Suarez
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The stories of everyday undocumented people and the stress and hardship they endure. Each chapter is a city and what is taking place there. It is heartbreaking but so necessary to read especially in today's political climate.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I havent read a book like this in a while! This is going to forever be one of my favorite books of all time. I saw myself, my family, my friends, and my culture in these pages and Im so grateful to have come across this book. Uff trust me when I say that this is a must read for sure. Thank you @oneworldpublishing for sending me a copy, I appreciate it so much. I didnt know I needed this book until I turned that last page. Increíble! I applaud this book and I hope the world receives it with open ...more
Marian P
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latinx
Latinx writer, translator, and Ecuadorian Harvard graduate Karla Cornejo Villavicienco has written a power house book on the quotidian lives of undocumented Latinx immigrants in the United States aptly titled The Undocumented Americans. This book is uniquely rendered, as the author is adamant about not being a typical journalist writing from detached observation. It is a book that will sit with you long past turning the last page as I devoured this one in a couple sittings.

The authors approach
Bimal Patel
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you publisher, Random House for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Illegal immigration is a hot button issue in every election since I can remember. If you don't have any idea what I am talking about then you are either in wrong country or a recluse. It's impossible not to have an opinion on this issue. Anyways, getting back to this book by Karla Carnejo, it is a glimpse into the lives of undocumented immigrants as told by them to the author who also
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are eleven million undocumented immigrants in our country. In our communities. They could be our neighbors, coworkers or classmates. We interact with them at restaurants and stores. They give everything they have to our country and receive so little in return. This is the legacy of our country and it's infuriating. This is also nothing new, but it's an especially hot political topic at the current moment.

From a writing standpoint, this book is good. Villavicencio is a solid writer with a
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: march-2020
Thank you One World Books and Netgalley for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

An undocumented immigrant graduated from Harvard, then decided to travel the country asking other undocumented immigrants to tell their stories. Real stories help us to empathize with people we might otherwise not be familiar with, and that's what the author, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, has found for us in The Undocumented Americans. Striving to find a blueprint for the hidden
Lady Shockley
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
In a changing society where economies are precarious and Politics is driven by fear, a scapegoat class is needed. This is particularly effective when members of that class are afraid to speak out and counter those myths and lies. In America today, the scapegoats for every societal ill has become undocumented immigrants, who are purportedly responsible for everything from "job stealing" to rising health care costs, to rising murder rates. None of those claims are true, of course, but are they ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Random House for sending me a copy of this Karla CCornejo Villavicencio's book, The Undocumented Americans, via a Goodreads Giveaway. As others have noted, it should probably be required reading for all Americans. Villavicencio is the Dreamer daughter of undocumented parents. She travels to various U.S. locations like Flint, Michigan, Ground Zero, and Cleveland, talking with members of the undocumented Latinx community about their experiences in America. Though the specific ...more
Shireen Hakim
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS is about the American nightmare. People who give their whole lives to America, but get nothing in return.
Their kids feel the pressure of immigrant kids on steroids. They have unspeakable pressure to succeed in America and make it up to their parents, who literally sacrificed everything to come to the US.

Like the memoir THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS, THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS is an unapologetic, #ownvoices memoir written by a brilliant immigrant American woman.

April Lashbrook
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Im partial to memoirs where the author seamlessly combines their experience with their research. This is one of those books.

Cornejo Villavicencio writes about her complicated family while also writing about her travels through the Northeast, Midwest and Florida to meet with and interview undocumented Americans. The stories are heartbreaking.

She also is brutally honest about her mental illness and the difficulty in which mental illness is handled in immigrant communities. This is so
Emi Bevacqua
I flew through this amazing non-fiction collection of first-hand research on a topic that is beyond utterly dire. As an avid reader of the multi-cultural genre, human rights news, and contemporary memoirs, The Undocumented Americans set off all my bells and whistles. This writing is so dynamic, so colorful and so elemental, I could not believe how much richly relevant data is packed into such a thrillingly absorbing book. I so wish everybody in America would read this; it reads like a winning ...more
I received a copy of this from a Goodreads giveaway. Overall, it's a strong, brutally honest view of the problems faced by those immigrants (in this book, almost entirely Latinx) who live and work in the United States without legal documentation --from their OWN input. The author, an immigrant herself, shares her own story and spends a great deal of time with many of the people whose stories she shares, from the difficulties and dangers faced in their home countries to family conflicts, ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I requested Undocumented Americans early because I wanted to read about this subject that is very personal and close to my heart.
These series of interviews felt relatable and eye opening.

I was taken aback by the Ground Zero chapter where it discribed what the undocumented workers contributed for this country. They put in hours of work and exposed themselves to high levels of toxic that ultimately gave them a future with poor health or in some cases not much of a future.

When the toweres fell,
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Karla Cornejo Villavicencio has written about immigration, music, beauty, and mental illness for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Glamour, Elle, Vogue, n+1, and The New Inquiry, among others. She lives in New Haven with her partner and their dog.

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