Hey everyone, it’s Sarah!
I am feverishly working my way through books getting buzz for the ALA Youth Media Awards. This novel keeps appearing across many different Newbery buzz lists and I have finally gotten to it.
Title: Efrén Divided
Author: Ernesto Cisneros
Efrén is a super big brother to his twin siblings, Max and Mía. His mother is a supermom, who makes milagros for breakfast. Efrén’s best friend is a dopey white boy, who is trying to win class president to show that he isn’t dopey, but smart. While Efrén is helping his best friend with his campaign, he also knows the opposing candidate and thinks she might be a better bet for the job. Immigration scares are happening more and more, the opposing candidate hopes to begin start changing attitudes at their school. Efrén’s parents are undocumented and his mother is deported. This throws the family into a tailspin and they are desperate to reunite.
This is an extremely timely and age-appropriate story for contemporary readers. I believe that its social implications are truly what has placed this book on my mock lists. I do believe that today’s readers should be exposed to this book and begin the conversation, because as this novel shows, it is never too early to start being the change. I wish there was more character development, especially related to secondary characters. I feel like aspects of these characters were revealed, but never fully realized. For example, all characters kept talking about how younger brother Max could be challenging, but he seemed like a regular kid with a regular amount of challenge. I just needed to be shown more of the characteristics of the characters than simple told about them.