FICTION

Illegal: A Disappeared Novel

Scholastic. Aug. 2020. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338310559.
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Gr 8 Up–Beginning immediately on the heels of Disappeared, siblings Sara and Emiliano Zapato find themselves separated in their attempt to escape a cruel cartel who threatened reporter Sara and her family, after she discovered the cartel was behind a string of young girls’ disappearances in their hometown of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. After successfully crossing the border into the United States, Sara turns herself in to petition for asylum, and is being held at an immigrant detention facility where the Mexican cartel has more sway in her treatment than the rule of law Sara was so certain she’d find in this new country. Meanwhile, Emiliano heads to Aurora to live with his estranged father and attempts to lift incriminating information from the cellphone he and Sara were able to smuggle from the Mexican cartel. But the life and danger they left behind is more intertwined with the people they know stateside than Emiliano or Sara ever fathomed possible, and each sibling’s next move to do what’s right could be the one that sends them both back to Mexico—and certain death. While some of the circumstances that keep the suspense high require some suspension of disbelief, a truthful and timely look into the United States’ immigration procedures and divisive political landscape shines through. An epilogue seems to conclude Sara and Emiliano’s fate for good.
VERDICT A strong showing for fans of crime and suspense, and recommended where the first title does well.

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