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Review of We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults

We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults
by Susan Kuklin; photos by the author
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    182 pp.
1/19    978-0-7636-7884-5    $19.99

The Trump administration’s 2017 repeal of DACA put photojournalist Kuklin (Beyond Magenta, rev. 3/14) and her work-in-progress, about undocumented immigrants, in an awkward place: would she be exposing her nine interviewees, undocumented all, to possible arrest and deportation? The book was postponed, photographs of the subjects removed, and names replaced by first initials. These measures are variously successful, with the initials and empty frames where portraits were meant to be reinforcing the danger such immigrants face but at the same time placing a veil of anonymity over their stories that can sometimes make them feel generic. Still, Kuklin includes an array of circumstances — those who jumped a wall; those who overstayed visas; immigrants from South Korea, Ghana, and Independent Samoa as well as those who crossed the southern border — that may broaden a reader’s understanding of the crisis. Most of all, the book conveys the difficult choices undocumented immigrants face at every step of their journeys: “There was never a question about what to take, because we had so little. The question was who to take.” A photo essay about the Arizona border, narrated by a Tucson minister/activist, adds visual interest, and back matter of “Notes and Resources” is exemplary.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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