Don't ask me where I'm from

Jennifer De Leon, 1979-

Book - 2020

"Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school, but when family secrets come out and racism at school gets worse than ever, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand"--

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Subjects
Genres
Young adult fiction
Published
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers [2020]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
323 pages ; 22 cm
Audience
Ages 14 up.
Grades 10-12.
ISBN
9781534438248
1534438246
9781534438255
1534438254
Main Author
Jennifer De Leon, 1979- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

When half-Guatemalan, half-Salvadoran Liliana, writer supreme at her inner-city Boston high school, discovers that she's been accepted into a very "white," very "bougie" academic program she never applied to, she must decide whether or not to let this new school determine who she is and who she wants to be. Adding to her angst is the mystery of her dad's absence, about which no one in her family seems to have answers. De Leon takes readers on an action- and dialogue-packed emotional roller coaster that explores self-identity and pride in one's diverse roots, centering on the perspective of a typical high-schooler worried about not only boys and grades but also the safety of her family. Readers will truly feel for and understand who Lili is, rooting for her as she discovers herself and begins to participate in social justice activism. An energetically paced, boundary-pushing novel that raises important questions of race, identity, belonging, true friendship, and how to stand up for a cause you truly believe in. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Things are tense at home for 15-year-old Liliana Cruz: her father has been gone for weeks, her mother is increasingly depressed but won't tell her why, and she's recently been accepted into a program she didn't even know her parents signed her up for: METCO, a high school "desegregation program." Now she must wake up at 5 a.m. to catch the bus from diverse inner-city Boston to a predominantly white and wealthy suburban high school. With her distracted best friend Jade wrapped up in a new boyfriend and the other METCO kids ignoring her, Liliana has to find her own way in Westburg High. But just as she makes friends with sarcastic Holly and starts a romance with a seemingly sweet white boy named Dustin, her new equilibrium is thrown off-kilter by an incident of racism and the well-wrought, devastating revelation of where her father really is. De Leon's debut handles issues such as immigration, deportation, assimilation, and Trump-era racial tensions in a humorous yet resonant way. Throughout, Liliana's narration remains authentic as she finds her voice, making for a fulfilling, thoroughly contemporary read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Aug.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7–10—Everything is changing. American-born Liliana and her twin brothers live in Boston with their El Salvadoran mother and Guatemalan father, who has been mysteriously absent for weeks. No one talks about where her dad is or when he is coming back, and Liliana doesn't have the heart to ask her mother, who is often crying and exhausted. The book opens just as Liliana has been accepted into METCO, a program to desegregate schools by putting good students from low-performing urban schools into high-achieving suburban schools. Liliana switches schools reluctantly, accustomed to her own community of people who look like her, sound like her, and have shared experiences. She cannot easily relate to her white classmates, from the way they talk to their reactions to her cultural norms. Feeling ostracized, Liliana meets Dustin, who gives her butterflies whenever they interact. De Leon uses frequent Spanish words and Latino pop culture references, with plentiful context clues, to portray Liliana's world and family. That, paired with slang-heavy dialogue, keeps the story moving along. It will be familiar territory for readers who straddle two cultures, for anyone who has had to be a newcomer, and, in this era, anyone who has ever worried about the impact of deportation on families. VERDICT A timely addition to most collections, this realistic fiction title will resonate with many readers.—Katie Llera, Brunner Elementary School, Scotch Plains, NJ Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Reinventing herself at a privileged white suburban high school to get by in the face of escalating racial tensions, a first-generation American-LatinX teen is forced to take a stand when she discovers that her absent father cannot legally return home. A first novel. 125,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school, but when family secrets come out and racism at school gets worse than ever, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“A funny, perceptive, and much-needed book telling a much-needed story.” —Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestseller Little Fires Everywhere
“Written with humor and grace, with intimacy and empathy, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From is the perfect coming of age novel for our time.” —Matt Mendez, author of Barely Missing Everything and Twitching Heart


First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall—or rather, walls.

There’s the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left—again.

There’s the wall that delineates Liliana’s diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy—and white—suburban high school she’s just been accepted into.

And there’s the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can’t just lighten up, she has to whiten up.

So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she’s seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn’t that her father doesn’t want to come home—he can’t…and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable.

But a wall isn’t always a barrier. It can be a foundation for something better. And Liliana must choose: Use this foundation as a platform to speak her truth, or risk crumbling under its weight.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

'A funny, perceptive, and much-needed book telling a much-needed story.' 'Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestseller Little Fires Everywhere 'Written with humor and grace, with intimacy and empathy, Don't Ask Me Where I'm From is the perfect coming of age novel for our time.' 'matt Mendez, author of Barely Missing Everything and Twitching HeartFirst-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall'or rather, walls.There's the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana's dad left'again.There's the wall that delineates Liliana's diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy'and white'suburban high school she's just been accepted into.And there's the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can't just lighten up, she has to whiten up.So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she's seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn't that her father doesn't want to come home'he can't'and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable.But a wall isn't always a barrier. It can be a foundation for something better. And Liliana must choose: Use this foundation as a platform to speak her truth, or risk crumbling under its weight.