Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe

April 7, 2010
Just Like Us


Helen Thorpe writes Just Like Us, a story of four Mexican girls growing up in America. Two of the girls, Marisela and Yadira lack the proper documentation needed to be considered legal. The other two, Elissa and Clara do have legal documents. This never bothered the girls. Each one viewed the others as her equal. Towards the end of their senior year of high school, this starts to change. Elissa and Clara begin to receive college applications and financial aid. The two illegal girls have to sit back and just watch. As this all unfolds, their friendship starts to divide along the line of immigration status.

Then everything begins to explode. A huge political debate on immigration fires up with the idea of deporting all illegal immigrants. An illegal immigrant then commits a horrendous crime in Denver which kindles that fire even more. People start to wonder if they should give immigrants a chance here. Congressman Tom Tancredo starts to bash the name of illegal immigrants and make laws that deport each and every one of them.

While reading the book, I learned to care about the girls and the situation that they were in. They were trying to live the American dream just like everyone else. The only thing standing in their way was their immigration status. Thorpe uses such great material in her book from interviews with politicians to interviews of illegal immigrants. She focused the book on such a huge and controversial subject. I’ve never really had an opinion on the topic of immigration, and the book didn’t make me lean toward one side or the other. I’m still caught in between. I definitely got to see both sided of the story though.

My overall opinion of the book is that it was very good and well written. You get to see two sides of one story. I probably would read it again in a few years to see how things have changed since then. I would also read the sequel that she’s working on. My favorite part of the book was when they all got accepted to college. It made me so happy to read that both Yadira and Marisela both got accepted. They were such great students and deserved it. The only part I really did not like was all of the politics. But I guess that was necessary to the story line. I would definitely recommend reading Just Like Us.





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