The Land of the Cranes

Scholastic. Sept. 2020. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338343809.
Gr 4-8–Living in Los Angeles, 9-year-old Mexican-American Betita Quintero has grown up hearing from her father tales of how their people have returned to their ancestral home: They come from a land of cranes, and are destined to achieve great things. Yet, immigration laws say they are on the wrong side of the US-Mexico border. Betita’s simple, loving life with her family is destroyed when Papi is deported to Mexico, and she and Mami (who is pregnant) are detained. While the beginning of this novel in verse is slow to build, Salazar rewards readers with a raw, honest story of detention in America from a child’s vantage point that is beautifully told, heart-wrenching, and resonant. Told in first person, Betita’s narrative voice captures the terror, upheaval, and uncertainty of detention and deportation in a way that is unrelenting while capturing a young person’s understanding of horrific experiences. Salazar provides a necessary and useful author’s note to contextualize the events in the book, which are not sugar-coated with an overly tidy ending.
VERDICT A highly original work that deserves a place in all libraries, this look at detention and deportation of undocumented people in the United States is sure to stay with readers of all ages.

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