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*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. What is it like to be an illegal alien in New York now. In a moving first-person, present-tense narrative, Nadira, 14, relates how her family left Bangladesh, came to the U. S. on a tourist visa, and stayed long after the visa expired ("Everyone does it. You buy a fake social security number for a few hundred dollars and then you can work."). Their illegal status is discovered, however, following 9/11, when immigration regulations are tightened. When the family hurriedly seeks asylum in Canada, they are turned back, and Nadira's father, Abba, is detained because his passport is no longer valid. The secrets are dramatic ("Go to school. Never let anyone know. Never."), and so are the family dynamics, especially Nadira's furious envy of her gifted older sister, Aisha. But Aisha breaks down, and Nadira must take over the struggle to get Abba out of detention and prevent the family's deportation. The teen voice is wonderfully immediate, revealing Nadira's mixed-up feelings as well as the diversity in her family and in the Muslim community. There's also a real drama that builds to a tense climax: Did Abba give funds to a political organisation. Where has the money gone. Will Immigration hear his appeal. The answer is a surprise that grows organically from the family's story. Readers will feel the heartbreak, prejudice, kindness, and fear. Add this to the titles in "New Immigration Materials"^B in the August 2005 issue's Spotlight on Immigration. Hazel Rochman
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Marina Budhos is the author of such books as Ask Me No Questions, Tell Us We're Home, and Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers. She has received an EMMA (Exceptional Merit Media Award) and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for women writers. Ms. Budhos has been a Fulbright Scholar in India, has given talks throughout the country and abroad, and has taught at several universities and colleges. She is currently an associate professor of English at William Paterson University. She lives with her husband and fellow Atheneum author, Marc Aronson, and their two sons in Maplewood, New Jersey. You can visit her online at marinabudhos.com.
"A thoughtful, riveting tale of post-9/11 America...Beautifully written." -- Chitra Divakaruni, author of "Queen of Dreams"