Debut author Dimmig produces a deep and meaningful story in verse for reluctant readers about a young man who is shocked to discover that he is undocumented.
Osmel, a high school senior, lives in eastern Washington with his mother and 12-year-old sister, Leslie, and hopes to study meteorology in college. While celebrating Leslie's birthday, Osmel learns from his law student aunt, Tía Alex—who recently marched alongside hundreds of other Dreamers in Seattle—that he and his mother are undocumented. From that point onward, Osmel is filled with trepidation. He confides in his school counselor but otherwise keeps this secret to himself, not even telling his mother he knows the truth. When his friend Juan confides that his dad didn't come home the night before and later called his mom from a holding center, this only adds to Osmel's daily apprehension. Told in the first person, primarily from Osmel's perspective, descriptions of nature and weather patterns (his family works picking fruit in an orchard) and a sense of fear and loneliness permeate the story. Interludes from Leslie's perspective offer a more assured, lyrical, and free voice, a fitting counterpoint to Osmel's narration. The narrative is powerful, informative, and insightful, weakened only by a bumpy ending that feels overstuffed.
An undeniably moving read recommended for absolutely everyone—Dreamer or not. (Verse novel. 12-18)
Gr 6 Up—Osmel has just begun his senior year of high school and is making college plans when he learns that he is undocumented. Through a verse narrative, readers follow Osmel's journey through discovery, grief, and acceptance. He begins to question if he will be able to achieve his dream of becoming a meteorologist, and he harbors resentment toward his sister, who was born in the United States. By way of comparison, teens see Osmel's Tía Alex, an outspoken law student registered under the DREAM Act, and his friend Juan, whose father is taken by ICE. Dimmig writes respectfully about a current topic, but the poetry in this verse novel does not hold up. The content is not too mature for preteens but is current enough to serve as a hi-lo book for an older teen. The line breaks seem random at times: "I watch Leslie/as she unfolds a blue/blanket and places it/over the small table/set for our family altar." There is not much use of the wordplay or literary devices that differentiate poetry from prose. VERDICT Although this is a timely subject and there is nothing objectionable in the book, other options may be a better choice. An additional purchase.—Jeri Murphy, C.F. Simmons Middle School, Aurora, IL