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Don't Ask Me Where I'm From

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First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

Fifteen-year-old Liliana is fine, thank you very much. It’s fine that her best friend, Jade, is all caught up in her new boyfriend lately. It’s fine that her inner-city high school is disorganized and underfunded. It’s fine that her father took off again—okay, maybe that isn’t fine, but what is Liliana supposed to do? She’s fifteen! Being left with her increasingly crazy mom? Fine. Her heathen little brothers? Fine, fine, fine. But it turns out Dad did leave one thing behind besides her crazy family. Before he left, he signed Liliana up for a school desegregation program called METCO. And she’s been accepted.

Being accepted into METCO, however, isn’t the same as being accepted at her new school. In her old school, Liliana—half-Guatemalan and half-Salvadorian—was part of the majority where almost everyone was a person of color. But now at Westburg, where almost everyone is white, the struggles of being a minority are unavoidable. It becomes clear that the only way to survive is to lighten up—whiten up. And if Dad signed her up for this program, he wouldn’t have just wanted Liliana to survive, he would have wanted her to thrive. So what if Liliana is now going by Lili? So what if she’s acting like she thinks she’s better than her old friends? It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.

But then she discovers the gutting truth about her father: He’s not on one of his side trips. And it isn’t that he doesn’t want to come home…he can’t. He’s undocumented and he’s been deported back to Guatemala. Soon, nothing is fine, and Lili has to make a choice: She’s done trying to make her white classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. Done changing who she is, denying her culture and where she came from. They want to know where she’s from, what she’s about? Liliana is ready to tell them.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published August 18, 2020

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About the author

Jennifer De Leon

2 books166 followers
Jennifer De Leon is author of the YA novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Simon & Schuster, 2020) which was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection, and the essay collection White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing (UMass Press, 2021), which is a recipient of the Juniper Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), an anthology that won an International Latino Book Award. An Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Framingham State University and faculty member in the Creative Writing & Literature Master Program at Harvard University, she has published prose in over a dozen literary journals including Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and more. Jenn makes her home outside the Boston area with her husband and two sons. Her next YA novel, Borderless, is forthcoming in February 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 674 reviews
Profile Image for elena ❀.
259 reviews2,875 followers
April 4, 2021
yeah, this wasn't it

hooray for representation!! (black rep, colombian rep, dominican rep, salvadoran and guatemalan rep, etc.) but other than that, this book was really boring

as a central american, i was really excited to read this. seeing centam representation in books is very rare (latino representation in general is rare, but especially centam rep) so i couldn't wait to read about a half-salvadoran, half-guatemalan girl (adding on to that, liliana is afro-latina, which was even more cool!) but the excitement just wore off after page 50 or so.

the book touches on many important and common issues, but regardless, it was really boring. the rep was barely there as well, mostly because liliana was not connected to her roots like at all (which is very common especially for central americans because hi hello central american erasure is a thing, but whether lili was a victim of central american erasure or not, i couldn't tell. it wasn't ever specified. she didn't know her parents were undocumented, and she barely mentioned how her parents were from central america, so i couldn't tell). the writing was also just...boring. easy to read through, but boring. read more like a middle grade novel sometimes.

liliana was a character i did like, admittedly. i loved how strong she was and how she stood up for herself as a human and as a student. but even with her courage and bravery, i was so bored.

this book is contemporary realistic fiction, but i just didn't feel anything. there were some moments where i could wholeheartedly relate, but overall i didn't enjoy this one bit. i rate books based off enjoyment, and even though there were minimal realistic and relatable moments, they weren't moments that changed the way i feel about the book.

this could be a fun, sad, important, and beautiful read for others, but it clearly was not a book made for me. i just didn't feel it, didn't connect with any of the characters, and didn't feel like it was worth reading, which is why i skimmed everything after page 72.


april 2, 2020

i don't think anyone will ever understand how happy i get when central america is being represented in a young adult novel
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,297 reviews2,290 followers
March 19, 2022
FYI, Despacito is not annoying.

And yes, I am glad how Spanish is taking over TV.

Variety, you know!

As long as we enjoy the art 💯

This book is just multicultural amazing!

One of the best YA contemporaries I have read till date. I am so glad one of my most anticipated releases of the year went beyond my expectations!

It gave me the The Hate U Give vibes but in the tone of immigration and racism.

I love the writing so much!

The characters are so real and the plot development amazing!

The story gives such a positive vibe and it definitely represent hope.

Trigger warnings: domestic violence, child abuse, racist remarks

"Oh great. Now I am going to be labelled the angry Latina who told off the blond white girl. See, this is why I never say anything in class."

🤫 You know, I am that random character who said this in the book:

"I don't speak Spanish. I would love to study Japanese in college, actually."

Profile Image for andrea hartmann.
147 reviews186 followers
May 14, 2021
TW: racism, deportation

This might be an unpopular opinion, but if you're writing a contemporary novel, and you want to educate your audience on a topic, you should probably educate your audience through the main character's experiences and not by having them learn something that they should probably already know. This book meant well, but I think the phrase "show, not tell" had it falling behind a bit. I appreciate its relevance and the fact that we really need a book like this right now in this day and age, but I don't think it was executed to the best of its ability. It had a great message, but honestly, it was rather bland and a bit boring to read.

Don't Ask Me Where I'm From is a contemporary novel about a 14-year-old Latinx named Liliana Cruz. Liliana goes to a basic public school in her area of Boston, Jamaica Plain, but everything changes when she gets accepted into this desegregation program called METCO that specializes in sending BIPOC students to private schools dominated by white students, so they can work together. Liliana doesn't want to leave her old school behind, especially her already-drifting best friend Jade, but her mother advises her not to give up on an amazing opportunity, so nevertheless, she transfers to a "white" private school called Westburg. As soon as she arrives there, she is faced with discrimination and struggles to find friends in a place filled with people who are so different than she is. Meanwhile, she also struggles with some family problems, as it seems her dad has left without notice, and it could be for good.

Now, as someone who was born and has grown up in a predominantly Latinx community, this book felt entirely stereotypical. It just...I felt like the author of this book read The Hate U Give and decided she wanted to write a book similar to that, but with her own experiences. This book felt like a Walmart The Hate U Give. I really don't like saying that, because it's like saying that two books are identical because they deal with racism, but this book had similar writing, themes, and dialogue to The Hate U Give. The main character goes to a white private school, has a white boyfriend to hide from her family, hates to combine her two worlds, and eventually does something about it that doesn't really work in the end. The dialogue and writing was cheesy in both as well, and in a way inauthetic. Something that The Hate U Give had that made it outstanding versus this book, is that it had character and an interesting plotline. I got bored with this book after a day.

Also, what was up with that cheesy writing? I felt like the author was trying to stuff in a bunch of slang and make Liliana sound like a cool girl, but my friends and I are all her age, all, at least partially, her race, have a lot of the same cultural influences, and yet we don't talk the way she did. It honestly made me cringe. She'd mix her hardass narration with cheesy sixth-grade words and it just really bothered me. I've noticed the same type of cheesy dialogue or narration in quite a few YA contemporary stories and it really is frustrating me a bit. The issue may lie in the fact that adults are the ones narrating, and not actual characters of their age, but still. Why are fantasy authors able to make their teenage dialogue so much less cheesier? It really doesn't make sense to me.

I do think this book meant well...which is why I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. It went and yelled out a message that people need to hear, even if it's "controversial" nowadays. I just wished it was able to go more in depth. I'm familiar with Latin culture (I grew up alongside it for my whole life) and it was very loosely integrated into this story. I felt like we were just reaching the surface with some of these themes and topics. It felt very stereotypical: here is a group of BIPOC characters and they are going to tell you why you shouldn't mistreat them! The racist characters were all overtly racist in stereotypical ways, but racist people I've met in real life are way more subtle than how this book was trying to portray them.

As many of you may know, my least favorite trope is cheesy instalove. But...alas...this book had JUST THAT. She meets this random guy, talks to him, he's practically perfect in every way, super nice, SO plain, and just...no. Not realistic at all. This guy develops an interest in her, a freshman, when he is himself a junior. The whole time I thought he would play her, because of their age differences. Not because he was white and she was Latinx, as this book tried to suggest. And no guys I've ever seen in real life have ever been that nice. There are nice guys, but those guys always have some sort of ulterior motive and...ugh, this book felt more like fantasy than any book I've ever read that's actually labelled fantasy.

In conclusion, Don't Ask Me Where I'm From doesn't meet the mark. Sure, it's passable, I didn't want to utterly die while reading it, but the writing was so bland. It was enjoyable for a few seconds, and a quick read, but I was honestly bored throughout. However...if you've never had an issue with any common, overused tropes or bland writing in YA contemporary novels...I think you might like this one.

P.S. I don't think I would have read this book if it wasn't gifted for me. The synopsis kind of gives away the whole cheesy writing aspect, and that's just really not my thing.
Profile Image for eli ♡ .
160 reviews143 followers
February 23, 2021
When this novel started, I was kind of skeptical of the plot and the novel overall based on the synopsis. But this book exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend this book to literally anyone.

I loved the main character Liliana Cruz because of her loyalty to herself and her creativity. I also really enjoyed the portrayal of the rest of the characters, because in a sense, they felt real and the dialogue between Liliana and her fellow characters helped with that. And I love her brothers because they were just so sweet, and all the characters (including her brothers) improved throughout the story in some type of way.

This story is mainly about an American Latinx sophomore, Liliana Cruz, and she lives in Boston with her mother, father, and 2 brothers. Yet she hasn't seen her father for a longer amount of time than he is usually gone, and Liliana's mother becomes very stressed over this. But then, Liliana is accepted into the METCO program, and after her mother agrees for her to participate, Liliana starts attending Westburg high.

Westburg high is a predominantly white school, and that's why the METCO program was created, to integrate many predominantly white schools. As Liliana spends more time at Westburg high, she has to "whiten up" and change herself at this new school. And when Liliana slows uncovers different family secrets and racism at her new school worsens, Liliana must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

This novel involves so much writing that Liliana does because of her father, and it really helps the reader understand where she's coming from. And throughout the book, her small pieces of writing really helps her find herself through the mist of all these challenges. And the way the book itself is written is done well.

The plot of this story is strong and prominent, and this is one of the many things I liked about the novel. There was never a dull moment in this novel because of the pacing and the strong storyline, which made me enjoy the book more. I don't have any complaints about it because the whole plot didn't feel rushed towards the end, rather the story was perfectly coming to a close.

To say the least, I absolutely loved this book, and I'm very glad that I read this novel because it felt like food to my soul. Everything about this story was on point, and I enjoyed that. But I still wish I could cook like Lilliana's brothers. Now I feel like an idiot sandwich for not knowing how to cook more than toast, oatmeal, and soup.

Profile Image for Sharon Velez Diodonet.
278 reviews38 followers
January 3, 2021
"I'm just saying that yeah, you may feel annoyed having to press one for English or whatever. But imagine how annoyed you'd be if someone came and kicked you off your own land and told you that your language, food, culture, everything, was wrong. And you had to change it. Or die. That's messed up, right? That's annoying right?"

There was so much to love about this book. Lili was a fierce, well developed protagonist who found her voice throughout the story & found connection with her culture through her father's deportation & shaping her own identity in the METCO program. The story started off very focused but somewhere towards the end, too many side plots & social issues started to make the original story veer off track. I loved that the author was intentional in being intersectional but it made the ending feel rushed to provide a happy ending. For many facing these issues, happy endings are rare. I, also didn't buy in to the fact that Lili ignored obvious red flags about her love interest so easily and fell in love so quickly. Other than that this book is a must read because it depicted what BIPOC, especially latinx students face in an authentic way.

There was so much truth in this YA gem that I could relate to personally. The education system is supposed to level the playing field but for BIPOC children this is not the case. The author points out that:
◇ disparities in education exist
◇ schools are still segregated
◇ students of color face stereotypes and racism daily when bused to other schools
◇ teachers have biases & prejudices
◇ lotteries and charter schools are the only options for a fair education in some communities
◇ the immigration process in the U.S. is far more complicated and biased than people think
◇ undocumented communities are resilient, resourceful and beacons of hope
◇ white fragility is toxic & discounts the experiences of BIPOC

My biggest takeaway is that there is so much work that needs to be done. Staying silent about oppression is never the answer. Change starts with difficult conversations. Racism should be confronted head on. There are no illegal people on stolen land and the U.S. needs to reckon with this.

Profile Image for Silverwillow.
7 reviews11 followers
January 23, 2022
"Don't Ask Me Where I'm From" is a story narrated by a Latinx teen, who finds out that she will be transferring into an all-white, wealthy school in the suburbs. Overall, I found that the author did an excellent job of giving people an accurate depiction of what racism looks like in America. This story is entirely realistic, and people need to hear Liliana's voice amongst many others on racism, and what we can do for our society to become a more inclusive place for people of different races. As someone who is mixed, I felt like I could relate to Liliana's point of view on racism and the world, which is partially the reason why I'm giving this book a five star review. Even for people who are not Latinx like Liliana, our main protagonist, this story in general speaks for the racist stereotypes, deportation, abuse, and how a first-generation teen portrays these topics. I'm going to start with the what parents need to expect, we're just going to call it that, only because I've written a whole paragraph just now on the positive! :) (Trust me, I'll keep the negative short.)

First of all, I'd like to bring up the language used throughout the story, (before anyone calls me a Karen, please don't stop reading now, or scroll down to my positive feedback) there was a continuous use of words like sh*t, f***ing, b**ch, and also the n word. I know that these are words that teens have heard before, but if a nine year old plans on reading this book and sees foul language, all we can do is pray they ignore it. The story in general is excellent, but the language is not exactly what I would call kid-friendly (I know I sound so old-fashioned... I'm cringing too). Otherwise, I feel like the author did a great job of portraying the teenagers of 2022, this is incredibly realistic for a book, and I absolutely love how the author speaks through the characters with so much personality. Moving on, this book has the concept of abuse and alcoholism, as there was a flashback at Jade's house where her father abused her while he was drunk, and also Jade's grandmother abused her. There wasn't exactly any gore, but it was mentioned, so there is also abuse and alcoholism in the story. Anyways, I feel like this wasn't exactly bad, but still. These are serious themes, and I just think that people should know what they're going to read, I think you should read this book once you fully understand things like racism, abuse, deportation, and alcoholism, because they should definitely be taken seriously. So, people who understand these concepts should definitely read the book, I highly recommend, but my rating would be 12+ or even 13+.

Now, for the positive, I love how honest this book is and how the author is really exposing their thoughts on social justice issues through the point of view of a teenager. Not only was this book focused on one race, but it also regarded things like sexuality, and what racism is looking like today for society. I have seen a review (not on Goodreads) saying that the author of this book is making people think that America is a racist country, and that students should have "positivity instead of divisiveness" I personally did not think that this book created any "divisiveness", but rather the opposite, as it was teaching us that we shouldn't view people as different because of things like race. It was more to provide a story for teens to understand racism without sugar coating it, this book talked about real issues and I appreciate how truthful it is. So yes, I loved the honesty and how our main protagonist had narrated the story, and overall, it is an excellent story to explain social justice issues. <3
Profile Image for Ris Sasaki.
922 reviews162 followers
October 10, 2020
3,5 🌟

The first half of this book deserves the trash. The writing style was awfully bad, the pacing was odd and the whole plot was boring at its best and dragged too much.
But the second half (especially after the 70% mark) was chef's kiss. The latina inside of me was screaming yes yes and a billion times yes.

The second half reminded me so much of Piecing me Together that at times it seemed like I was reading the same book but with a latinx main character, but man it felt good to be seen.
662 reviews25 followers
August 21, 2020
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review

3 ⭐️

Trigger warnings: racism, sexism, violence

I get what the author wanted to achieve with this, but it missed the mark.

To begin with, the summary of this book leads to believe that most of the plot will center on people finding out aboit Lili’s dad being deported. Except that’s an afterthought for the first half, and the secret getting out happens at like 70%. This book is really just a latina girl trying to fit in at a makorly white school in a rich suburbs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wish it had been marketed as such.

But the real reason I didnt love it is the writing. This kind of teen-thought writing has been gaining in popularity recently, and I don’t love it. I find it hard to immerse myself in a story that looks like a bad fanfiction written by a 15 years old. Great if it pleases the teens, but it makes it a dozen time more difficult for me to enjoy the story.

I also have a bone to pick with the double standards here. It’s great that Lili questions and voices objections about racism, but the author only had her react to sexism when it came from white characters, though there are plenty of examples where latinx characters were sexist (and in some instances more obvious than that done by white characters). If you’re going to call out harmful behaviour, be consistent. It won’t hurt your main objective to also point out what your own culture does wrong.

Finally, talking about main objective, it got blurred in the crowd of side plots. We had Lili at school, her friendship with Jade, her dad being deported, her mom’s depression, her relationship... In a well-executed novel, all those plot lines could have worked well together. Here, it just felt murky and caused some of the secondary character to fall flat (I have ZERO sympathy for the way Jade treated her, simply because she has a boyfriend now).

I applaud the intention, but wished for a more polished product.
Profile Image for Mayra.
516 reviews
February 1, 2020
I must confess I began reading this book and did not stop until I read the last word.

Looking back on my reading of the book made me aware of the different lenses I used throughout the story.

1. First and foremost, how did the story compare with my Latinx lens, with a constant eye for using what I know about my culture, (my education, my family stories, or the stories of Latinx people I have met) to either believe or be turned off by the writing? How believable was this author? Check plus! There were so many true little details among the Guatemalans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, or altogether the children of families who migrated to this country and live in that dual-culture world.

2. How did the two high schools compare? I have been to both, and I have taught (briefly) in both. Physical descriptions were truly believable.

3. Why didn't I give the book 5 stars? There was one unanswered question bugging me throughout the book: how did the family make it to pay rent, pay for utilities, and buy food, especially since Dad wasn't around, there was no family close, and mom couldn't get a job? Yes, the mom would pick up little jobs here and there, but there was no constancy in this to justify covering a family of 4 living in the city.

4. I liked that there was no dreamy ending with race relations at school, but just a seed that was planted (the paper & markers mural). It's up to all of us to make a change.

5. Would I buy this book for our library and recommend it to teachers and students? Yes!

Thanks to NetGalley for bringing my attention to this book and sharing it with me.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews589 followers
March 30, 2020
DON’T ASK ME WHERE I’M FROM by Jennifer De Leon is a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, a young teen is dealing with excelling in her diverse, inner city neighborhood. After being offered the opportunity to attend a special, mostly white school in an upscale suburb, Liliana faces not only being the new girl, but the discomfort of being “different.” What she does to cross the racial barrier teaches a positive lesson.

On the other hand, she also learns she is the child of illegal immigrants and it explains why her father has disappeared. What it doesn’t explain is how this is acceptable or how it was okay to work “under the table.”

Although Liliana’s story is rich is lessons to be learned, her family’s dark secrets and the way it played out left me shaking my head. How can breaking the law, repeatedly be okay? Not the lesson I would want anyone to take away from reading this story, especially a teen.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. This is my honest and voluntary review.

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (May 5, 2020)
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA Emigration & Immigration
Print Length: 336 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Eileen.
1,937 reviews75 followers
March 18, 2020
I found this story to be both compelling and informative as we got to look at living in American through the eyes of a Latinx main character who is trying to navigate living in two different worlds. Liliana Cruz is attending a poor school in Boston when she gets into a ritzy mostly white school through a program called Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), a desegregation program meant to give non-white students from Boston's under-performing school districts more educational opportunities. Meanwhile, she is struggling to emotionally support her mother and younger twin brothers when her dad disappears (again), but this time for far longer than he has before. The title ends up being her six-word autobiography and it really resonated with me, as I used to get the question, "Where are you from-from?" all the time when I was growing up. I could feel a lot of her anger, frustration, fear, and sadness as she navigated her personal/familiar struggles and the racism and other challenging situations that occurred in her school. I would absolutely recommend this book to my students, both to those of color who struggle with similar issues and to those who don't to offer them up a different perspective and perhaps open up a dialog.

Special thanks #JenniferDeLeon, #Atheneum/CaitlynDlouhyBooks, #SimonandSchusterChildrensPublishing, and #NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Roaringwave.
319 reviews60 followers
December 1, 2020
This was a case of “I liked the idea but wasn’t a fan of the execution”. I liked the idea because I don’t think that it’s something that I’ve read before and I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t. The very first thing that I did not like at all was the writing style, that doesn’t mean that no one else will like it, but I just thought that it felt like a first draft (if that makes sense). I didn’t like the main character for some reason, I can’t put my finger on why though. I also felt like the ending was super convenient and maybe too happy
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews388 followers
December 11, 2021
This was an very interesting read as it's thouches on topics I know nothing about. Intriguing and infuriating at times. I like these kinds of books that are fiction but at the same time highlights topics and information that i know very little or nothing about and at the same time as I read an enjoyable story.
Profile Image for La Tonya  Jordan.
289 reviews89 followers
February 1, 2022
Very passionate read for inclusion. Liliana Cruz, a Latinx, is a sophomore at Boston High School. She is content. She finds out she has been accepted in the METCO program to Westburg High School in the wealthy white suburbs of Boston. The bus ride is an hour one way. Her mother and best friend are excited for her. She is not.

This book is about the first six months of Liliana Cruz introduction into Westburg High School. She matures fast and learns the hard way about race relations. Life is not fair. She was stereotyped, written off by classmates and teachers, betrayed, and humiliated. She rose to the occasion to try to make the high school a better place for everyone. I did like the ending. It was realistic. Racism was not erased. There was still much work to be done. But, it was a beginning.


I have always capital L Loved writing.

We stayed until the sky turned the color of cement.

So, yeah, Missie was the only white girl I'd ever spoken to for more than five seconds. Some people might find that surprising, but it was true.

How who we are on paper apparently matters just as much as -no, who am I kidding? more than-who we are in person.
Profile Image for Ellie.
151 reviews14 followers
December 27, 2020
I loved seeing a Salvadorian main character in a book. I never get to see Central Americans represented in books 😭 That alone made me appreciate this book so much.

This book touched on some deep issues like immigration and racism. I felt really bad for Lily seeing the added stress her parent’s undocumented status added to her life. Some issues were brought up and never mentioned again so I was a little confused at times but overall a good story with a sweet ending.
Profile Image for Karina.
525 reviews124 followers
August 17, 2020
Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★
Don't Ask Me Where I'm From is a fantastic debut from De Leon that follows Liliana whose navigating a new school when she's accepted into the METCO program! Character-driven, introspective, and discussing various topics from immigration to racism, this is a YA Contemporary you need on your TBR!
Where to start with this book...well I absolutely loved it!! Lilana's voice is just so funny, personal, and filled with so much energy that it keeps you turning the page. She's an avid writer and makes miniature sets in her free time, her voice just leaps off the page, she was a fantastic main character and if this wasn't a standalone, I would've absolutely loved more books with her in the future!
So Liliana is accepted into a METCO program which means she's leaving her Boston school and heading to Westburg, a predominately white HS. With her father having disappeared since the summer, she's navigating the new environment, making friends with the other METCO students, trying to connect with her best friend Jade, a bit of romance, all while dealing with microagressions among witnessing race-related issues at Westburg. She's struggling to show her true self at school and she's feeling lost.

As someone from a Guatemalan family, I truly can't put into words what it meant to read about a Guatemalan teen from a Guatemalan author! I'm literally sobbing at just how personal this book felt to me reading from Lili's POV!! All the little details like pepian, relative visits, and just seeing Liliana learn more about her Guatemalan roots was just so relatable to me! (*more to discuss in review: Lil's experience learning more about her Guatemalan culture)

The plot is very slice of life, seeing Liliana at school, home, with her friends, it was all great to read! She's also rightfully feeling sad because her father has been deported, so she's reminiscing on her childhood with him and how he helped shaped her passions and much more!

Themes of family, coming of age, friendship even tackling many topics from immigration to racism, were all such vital parts of the story and De Leon really takes the time to navigate all of them. Also as a whole its very much discusses and delves into contemporary topics through the lens of a Latina living in Boston, through such a vibrant and wonderful character!
Although this book is ABSOLUTELY one of my new favorites, my only issue (which has me leaning towards 4) is that the writing reads very much like "stream of consciousness" where the story moves incredibly quickly at points and because your really in Lil's head its like your going from one thing to the next. But I will say the writing style itself really gives you a sense of who Lil is, she's someone who feels the need to hide and not fully be herself, she's also witty, observant, and if your looking for a personal/introspective narrative, this is the book for you!
Don't Ask Me Where I'm From is a fantastic debut you don't want to miss! Liliana is adjusting to her new school while confronting microagressions, racism, and learns to find her voice in order to take a stand! Character-driven, thought-provoking, and wonderfully written, its perfect for fans of The Poet X and Elizabeth Acevedo! Don't Ask Me Where I'm From is a must read for 2020!
*Full ARC Review/additional notes to come!
Profile Image for adriana.
78 reviews
February 21, 2021


Okay, let me start from the beginning. I didn't love the start of the book. I wasn't vibing with the writing style and it just felt like an adult poorly writing a teenager. It got better around the middle though. It felt like the author had finally found a rhythm (and a balance - why were there so many "whaaaa?" at the beginning???) and the characters and their way of thinking felt a bit more "established."

Anyway, besides that, this is a great book. It hit really close to home so I may be biased but it made me sob. The last part of the boon was just so raw and emotional and I loved every second of it.

PLEASE read this book.
Profile Image for Lissett.
26 reviews
December 31, 2020
I don't read a lot of YA but I picked this up because I heard the protagonist was part Salvadoran. Although that identity didn't really come out much, this book still really resonated with me in so many ways. The challenges and how Liliana navigates through them in her new predominately White + upper-class school were pretty accurate. It's a book I wish I had read/existed when I was that age and also navigating through a similar experience switching schools. As I read this through my first gen/daughter of immigrants + Latinx lens I really enjoyed it (this is what seeing yourself in a book is like?!).. its a pretty quick & easy read. Would recommend to everyone but especially students/young folks and teachers.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
September 15, 2020
3.5 stars

I don’t really have a lot to say about this one, so I’ll try to keep this very short. I thought this was a really good novel in terms of the characters and the themes it explores. I really appreciated the way Lilliana’s character was developed throughout the story and I thought the way she responds to the METCO program and the way her experience at her new school was explored was done really well. I do wish that some of the plotlines had been tied together a little better and that we had gotten to see more of the side characters, but overall, this was a really enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
829 reviews4 followers
March 24, 2020
I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

A chapter in I wanted to stop and give up but I'm glad I kept going. Although the writing was uneven at times and topics are brought up and then never referred to again, this is an important young adult book to have available to our teens. It talks about immigration and living in a country illegally but also interracial dating and how to have friends different cultures and races.
Profile Image for Mary Thomas.
377 reviews12 followers
July 23, 2020
I really liked this YA contemporary. I thought Liliana was such a great protagonist- I legit enjoyed spending time with her! I think students are going to love this book.

I love reading a book and knowing which kid I will hand it to immediately. Will be purchasing for my library!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Lapp.
149 reviews8 followers
June 4, 2020
This book was a great reminder to remain open and accepting of ALL people. This book could not have been published at a greater time! Excellent read.
Profile Image for sana.
233 reviews
June 16, 2021
3.5 stars

I really loved the story and characters, but the writing was so informal that it was annoying. The author would literally just write "gahhh!" in the middle of a sentence, and it sounded like a stream of conscious kind of writing, but worse. Other than that, and the dialogue, I liked everything else. Liliana was very creative, and her character was inspirational. I really did enjoy the ending, how they made a difference even if it seemed very small.
Profile Image for Jill.
514 reviews808 followers
September 28, 2021
I ended up loving this!

The beginning of this book was hard to get into because of the writing so I was expecting to rate this maybe a 2-3 star. However, I just started to feel really connected from the middle onwards and think this book tackled so many important topics. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it mostly unrealistic? Yes. But I still think this book is so important both for people who identify as Latinx and white people too.

It would have been 5 stars if the writing felt less like an adult trying to be a “hip” teenager haha but still very enjoyable ~
Profile Image for Jianna Palladini.
33 reviews2 followers
March 28, 2022
I think this book is great for young adults, and I think it’s a great representation for Latinx readers. It has some great cultural, political, linguistic, and overall diversity information.

It just wasn’t really for me. I think the content is VERY important, and I don’t want to negate that. I just couldn’t take the writing seriously or get super into it. Honestly, I believe it’s a preference thing that comes with age.
Profile Image for Alexis Scrima.
158 reviews5 followers
September 20, 2020
This book was so so so good. I listened to the audio book and I loved it! I definitely need a physical copy for my shelf though. This was just an incredible read with a story that is so necessary to be heard. I loved this so much.
Profile Image for Katarina.
809 reviews81 followers
August 29, 2020
ENG: This one just didn't hit the mark for me, to be honest. I do believe it's an important story that handles some serious topics about immigration, diversity, racism, and the current climate both political and social, but I've read it before and I've read it better so this was lacking in a lot of areas. Also, I don't think I realised how young the protagonist was, and the voice was very young and juvenile for me within the execution. I'd still recommend it because it's solid and it's important to support own voices authors and books, especially with their debutes.

HRV: Ova knjiga me jednostavno nije pogodila. Mislim da likovi nisu bili dovoljno razrađeni - i premladi za moj ukus, sa glasom koji mi nije pasao - priča nedovoljno čvrsta, te iako govori o bitnim temama, mislim da su bile puno bolje odrađene u drugim knjigama koje sam čitala.
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