Love in English

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062996510.
Gr 9 Up–When 16-year-old Ana moves from Argentina to New Jersey, she works hard to learn English and fit in at her new high school. No matter how much effort she puts into her studies, though, she is still caught in moments of confusion, as teachers and classmates talk rapidly and sprinkle their speech with American idioms. When she meets Harrison, a handsome, blonde-haired boy in her math class, Ana begins to come out of her shell, making more of an effort to communicate. She and her new Spanish-speaking friend, Altagracia, devise a plan, and Ana happily starts worrying about the things typical to high school juniors. As Ana makes progress with English and expresses herself through her poetry, she develops a close friendship with Neo, a Greek Cypriot boy from her ESL class, who enlists her to watch 1980s movies and take trips to New York City. Just when Ana feels she is settling into life in her new country, she is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Andreu creates a realistic portrait of the obstacles facing English language learners in the United States. By cleverly blocking out portions of text, she mimics what language sounds like to the ears of someone who has not yet achieved fluency. Her characters are nuanced and their interactions endearing. Teenagers and adults alike will gain necessary perspective from reading this accessible story about a topic that affects millions.
VERDICT An engaging novel about language, culture, and empathy. Highly recommended for all libraries.

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