Richard Conlin'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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Feb 27, 2010

it was amazing
Recommended for: anyone interested in American life
Read in February, 2010 , read count: 1

When I hear a book is 'heartbreaking' I am usually pretty leery of it -- suspect it is overly sentimental or maudlin. But that word sometimes applies to this deeply engrossing account of four Latina teenagers growing up in Denver. The insight into adolescence in contemporary Latina society alone might be an interesting story, but the kicker is that they have very different immigration status, and that makes huge differences in what these four bright ambitious girls can do. If you do not have legal status, you cannot get a driver's license. You can't get on an airplane, because you don't have proper id. You aren't eligible for financial aid to go to college. And on and on.

But the book is their story, not a screed, and hope and despair are both part of that story. While a critical part of the book reinforces my belief that borders and immigration rules are fundamentally violations of human rights, it is a great American coming-of-age story, told with humor, empathy, and honesty. Whatever your opinion of immigration is, this is a significant and interesting view of an important part of contemporary America, great storytelling, and a fount of information about new American cultures and our society's evolution.
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