Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review of Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

Released in March 2011, Illegal is the story of a fourteen year old Mexican girl's struggle to hold on to her life, which is crumbling before her eyes.  Her family's orchard is slowly being destroyed by drought and pests, and her town is drying up- everyone is moving on to find a better life.  No people in the town means no customers to sell their fruit to, and Nora's father leaves for the United States to try to make enough money to save their home.

For awhile, things are okay, but when months go by without any word from her father, Nora's family is out of money and out of hope.  She and her mother decide to illegally journey into Texas (made even more dangerous because they are two women traveling alone).  After a frightening border crossing experience, Nora and her mother find themselves in Houston with little English, little money, and no idea where to start looking for her father.

This story chronicles Nora's desperate desire to survive, her perseverance, and her friendly nature.  Although it deals with heartbreaking issues, the rich and well-developed characters bring light and a constant sense of hope into the story.

I give this book 4 stars, and I would recommend it primarily for middle/high school readers.  It is an excellent piece of anti-oppression literature, very eye-opening but also purely enjoyable.  The ending made me cry, but I was left with a sense of encouragement and an appreciation for Nora's indomitable spirit.


  1. Illegal sounds like a book that I would really enjoy! Thanks for the review! =)

  2. Thank you so much for reviewing Illegal ~ I'm always excited when teachers read my books!

  3. Hey Allison,

    Thanks for commenting on my Purple Daze review! To answer your question, it's a pretty quick read - it clocks in at just over 200 pages (and a lot of those don't have that much writing on them, since it's verse.) It did take me a bit more effort to get through the non-fiction "current events" sections.

    I haven't seen many reviews of Illegal, so thanks for that! If it can make you cry, it must be doing something right :)