In contrast to throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon.
Expected Release: August 18, 2020
Why wait on this one?
- I can always support a book with a woman deciding to stand up and be herself – and screw other people’s comfort. With Liliana moving into a mostly-white fancy prep school, she’s forced to learn a bit about cruelty and racism. I hate that, but I hope to see her strength no longer be needed someday.
- Her family bonds sounds tight, but the wrench of her father being deported and the colossal shake up of her perception of her life that comes with that… I cannot imagine what it would be like. Hopefully I can get some glimmer of insight.
- It sounds like there will be a really strong voice for this novel. Even just reading the blurb gave me a sense of how Liliana might think and sound. If so much can be conveyed just from that, I have high expectations of the entire novel! Very promising.
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.