Malín Alegría provides something the book world badly needed – a great young adult novel depicting Latino life.
Border Town: Crossing the Line (Point/Scholastic) is the first in a series of books modeled after the popular 1980s series Sweet Valley High, which followed the lives of two high school sisters living in California. Border Town features Fabiola Garza and her sister, Alexis, as they attend high school in the small (and fictional) town of Dos Rios in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Even though Alegría lives in California, she perfectly captures the Valley beyond the characters’ meals of menudo and pan dulce. Here’s a line when Fabiola runs into her old Sunday school teacher while she’s buying personal items: “This was exactly why she hated living in the Valley. You couldn’t do anything without running into someone you knew!” (I used to live in the Valley, and that line is so accurate, I laughed out loud.) Fabiola yearns to escape small town life – seeing nearby McAllen as the oasis of cosmopolitan life. “This was how civilized people should live, Fabi though as she grinned to herself – with movie theaters, a mall, art galleries.”
The plot covers typical adolescent angst. Alexis begins attending Fabiola’s high school and runs with the cool kids. Fabiola gets jealous, and accuses one of Alexis’ new friends of committing a crime. The ending is a bit Nancy Drew-ish and unrealistic. The book also is a bit innocent in portraying high school life. While the girls attend a party where they can smell marijuana, sex isn’t mentioned at all.
But Border Town is a fast-paced, easy-to-read book that Latino teenagers will enjoy to read – mostly because they will see themselves in the pages.
More about Malín Alegría: Alegría also wrote Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico and Estrella’s Quinceañera. Quince Clash, which comes out in July, is the next book in the series.
Source: I bought this book at Barnes and Noble.
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