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Review of Us in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos

Us in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos
by Lulu Delacre; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Harper/HarperCollins    242 pp.    g
8/17    978-0-06-239214-5    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-239216-9    $9.99

This collection opens with “The Attack,” an all-too-timely account of a young Latino man with a disability being mistreated by the police. The twelve tales are all based on true events, appended with notes that explain where Delacre first learned of them and citing the article that informed each piece. The deliberate voice and close focus on each fictionalized protagonist turns each headline into a relatable story. At the beginning of each tale, Delacre includes intricate mixed-media character portraits, purposely unfinished, pencil drawings layered between pierced rice paper and incorporating newspaper clippings from her original sources. She also pairs each story with a refrán; these sayings are translated in the back matter, which also includes a glossary of Spanish terms. The collection presents stories about health (in “Selfie,” Marla attempts to improve her pre-diabetic condition through cycling); about young people feeling shame over their parents’ jobs (“Burrito Man”); parents being deported (“Band-Aid”); and siblings who are undocumented (“The Secret”). In contrast, in “90,000 Children,” a twelve-year-old Latino boy aspires to be a Border Patrol agent. Delacre’s collection challenges existing misconceptions by giving readers an intimate and varied look into what it is like to be young and Latino in the United States today.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez

Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez is currently an Assistant Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College. She received her PhD in English from the University of California Riverside. Her research focuses on Latinx children’s and young adult literature. She is a contributing blogger for Latinx in Kid Lit (latinosinkidlit.com)

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