Please note that I gave this book 4.5 stars, but rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads.
I don't know how many people are familiar with Diane Guerrero, but I first saw her in Orange is the New Black.
She's one of my favorite characters in the show and I honestly was surprised when I saw this book pop up as a new release in memoirs/biographies. And I was a bit gun shy about borrowing this because I was worried it would not be a good read. I am so happy I was wrong about that.
Besides an initial slow start to this memoir (why I gave it 4.5 stars) after Ms. Guerrero starts describing her family's experiences in Columbia and also in the United States the book gets moving. I know that not everything wraps up in a happy ending, but this book really showcases the pain the children of undocumented immigrants feel knowing that if their parents are found out, they are definitely going to be sent back to their country. But, and that's the big thing, what happens to the children who were born in the U.S. and are seen as legal residents?
I don't think I could have went through what Ms. Guerrero did. My identity as a pre-teen and teenager was so intertwined with my mother and father it would have bizarre to not have them there. As it is, since they have both passed away it always feel wrong to me to know that one day I am going to be alive longer than I actually had them in my life and that hurts like hell.
Ms. Guerrero starts her memoir off with the day her parents were taken by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and then backtracks the book back to her parents lives in Columbia. Reading about Ms. Guerrero's parents losing their own parents, brothers/sisters and both of them meeting and realizing that they could do better in America was a cornerstone of the story and I definitely get why they did what they did. To make a better life for you, and for your kids, that's what all parents and just people want to do.
From there we get to see Ms. Guerrero's story and her family's story really come to life.
Ms. Guerrero was open and honest enough to let us see the good and bad about her life/parents/brother/herself. I love that she chose to do that. Lately most memoirs I have read don't feel authentic to me. You can tell when an author is holding something back from you to either make themselves look good and or they don't want to share. And I get that, but then I always think to myself while reading, why the heck did you write this book?
She took pains I think to show that she was not some perfect child or sister. That she was often selfish and angry about how her parents circumstances and then deportation impacted her life. I don't think I would have been as strong as she was. Knowing that her best opportunity lay int he United States and to decide to not follow her parents, but instead live with friends until she graduated high school was a huge thing for her to do.
The book goes from her childhood to her finally landing her big breaks on Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. We even get to read about her meeting President Obama and how she acted like a fangirl (hey I feel here there).
I loved that the book also included pictures (one of my favorite things to see in memoirs) and the book was broken up into sensible sections. I thought it flowed perfectly after we got past the initial chapters and then I couldn't put the book down because I had to know what happened next.
The settings of this book goes to Columbia, Spain, and the United States (Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. New Jersey, etc.) and Ms. Guerrero is able to bring most places to life with her writing (except for Washington, D.C.--I get why though, she hated her time here at that point in her life) and I loved that I was able to picture myself in these places.
The ending was sad though. You read about how there's really no path to citizenship that's open right now and even though President Obama tried to pass immigration reform, as of today the U.S. Supreme Court voted 4-4 on it so now Texas lawsuit against it still stands.