Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

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A promise.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .

Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.

Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience.


About Bettina Restrepo

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Bettina Restrepo received a BS from the University of Texas at Austin and is the author of a picture book, Moose and Magpie. She worked as an internal auditor in the Hispanic supermarket Fiesta Mart, which is portrayed in this book. There she examined firsthand the challenges in the nuances of life for illegal immigrants. Bettina lives with her family in Frisco, Texas, and is the daughter of Colombian and German immigrants.
Published March 8, 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books. 277 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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With searing realism, debut author Restrepo describes Nora’s anger, desperation and loss of faith when she and her mother arrive, barely alive in the back of a fruit truck, in Houston to a barrio that’s characterized by racial division, gangs, violence and filthy living conditions.

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Publishers Weekly

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In her first novel, picture book author Restrepo (Moose and Magpie) conveys Nora and her mother's day-to-day struggles in Texas as they commission fake papers, search for employment (and for Nora's father), and fight to maintain dignity while keeping their illegal status hidden.

May 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Illegal


An important novel that deserves a wide readership.” -Michael Cart, author of YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE: FROM ROMANCE TO REALISM and editor of HOW BEAUTFUL THE ORDINARY: TWELEVE STORIES OF IDENTITY In Bettina Restrepo’s first novel,Illegal (2011), she gives voice to an otherwise voiceless populat...

Mar 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Illegal

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