Review by Booklist Review
After Enrique's winning goal seals the team's chance to play in the soccer tournament, excitement runs high, so when Papá refuses to sign the permission slip, Enrique becomes angry and frustrated. Attending the tournament means passing through the border checkpoint, and although he is a U.S. citizen, his family members' legal status is precarious. Determined not to let his team down, Enrique forges his father's signature on the permission slip and starts to plan. Facing Fear captures an intergenerational tension often present in mixed-status families and rarely seen in children's literature. Readers' empathy will whip back and forth between Enrique, Papá, the team, and the family, just as Enrique himself tries to understand and reconcile the layered injustice of the situation. Williams and Palacios lay bare the internal and external conflicts faced by this immigrant family, prompting critical readers to ask questions about the system that puts people into circumstances like these.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Enrique's triumphant winning kick qualifies his soccer team for a tournament, but the 10-year-old faces a barrier to attending: though Enrique was born in the U.S., his family's undocumented status complicates his passing through an immigration checkpoint, which could end in Mama, Papa, and older sister Rosa's being deported. Angry and uncomprehending ("You're always afraid," he tells his father), Enrique plans to go anyway until a friend's father is deported after being stopped for a broken taillight. As Enrique's family takes refuge with relatives to avoid a possible roundup, he learns the full story of the family's journey to America, and gains a deeper appreciation for their courage. The ending has an after-school special feel, but Williams's (A Thousand White Butterflies) storytelling is otherwise heartfelt and sympathetic, with back matter that provides context and lists support organizations and further reading suggestions. In earnest vignettes, Palacios (A Way with Wild Things) brings emotional tension to the family's backstory, clearly portraying the relentless anxiety of one undocumented family's experience. Ages 5--9. (Mar.)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
The son of undocumented immigrants learns about what threatens to tear apart his family. Hooray! Enrique's soccer team is going to the tournament. There's only one problem: Enrique must get his permission slip signed by his father, who refuses to sign it for fear of what will happen when Enrique travels through the checkpoint. "If they find something on your papers, they could send us back across the border, split us up," says Papá. Though Enrique's a U.S. citizen by birthright, Papá, Mamá, and his sister, Rosa, all live in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. Papá's refusal to sign the permission slip enrages Enrique, who fears that he's letting down his team. "Why did his father worry so much?" When rumors of a migra roundup begin to circulate, Enrique's family takes refuge at his tía's home, where Papá finally shares with Enrique the full story of the family's difficult journey across the border. While Williams never explicitly pins down the specific geographical context or the family's cultural background (the artwork depicts them as brown-skinned and places a Mexican national soccer team banner on Enrique's bedroom wall), this demonstrative tale nonetheless commits to a portrait of an immigrant experience that's full of uncertainty due to the U.S. government's heavily anti-immigrant agenda. The author's use of text that's direct and blunt in message clearly expresses the weight of what's always at stake, even though this commitment to frankness leads to some abrupt tonal shifts. Palacios' colorful, bright pictures exude enough warmth to push back against the bleakness that threatens to overwhelm. Crucial in its timeliness. (author's note, resource list, further reading) (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.