The best YA novels about immigration

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Author Of Where I Belong
By Marcia Argueta Mickelson

The Books I Picked & Why


By Daniel Aleman

Book cover of Indivisible

Why this book?

Indivisible tells the story of Mateo Garcia and his little sister. Their parents are picked up by immigration officials. His school life is interrupted by this terrible event. Mateo has to help take care of his sister while not knowing what is going to happen to his parents. As a daughter of immigrants, I felt very drawn to the story. I understand what a difficult decision it is for parents to make to leave behind their home countries to try to make a better life for their children.

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Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

By Laekan Zea Kemp

Book cover of Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Why this book?

In Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, Penelope Prado has a dream of opening a bakery. While working in her father’s restaurant, she meets Xander, a good-looking boy whose immigration status leaves him in jeopardy. This book really resonated with me because Xander is dealing with a consequential issue of facing deportation. That’s a very scary thing to face at such a young age, and I think a lot of youth are in similarly precarious situations.

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The Sun Is Also a Star

By Nicola Yoon

Book cover of The Sun Is Also a Star

Why this book?

In The Sun is Also a Star, we meet Natasha who loves science and is hours away from being deported. On what is possibly her last day in the country, she meets Daniel. They spend the day together all the while, Natasha travels around the city trying to get legal help for her possible deportation. This book really stood out to me because that is a lot of stress put on a young woman. It also shows a very broken immigration system that isn’t fair to many families.

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Esperanza Rising

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

Book cover of Esperanza Rising

Why this book?

Esperanza Rising is a story that takes place after the Mexican Revolution. Esperanza and her mother must flee Mexico, and they go to California. Esperanza and her mother were wealthy in Mexico, so they are not used to the hard work they must now do. She and her mother struggle as farmworkers in California. I recommend it as a great middle-grade read that gives readers an understanding of the difficulties many migrant families faced.

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We Are Not from Here

By Jenny Torres Sanchez

Book cover of We Are Not from Here

Why this book?

We Are Not from Here tells the story of three young people- Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña who are fleeing gang violence in Guatemala. They are forced to leave due to gang threats. Their struggle to reach the United States is a heart-breaking one. This book gives a good understanding of the impossible choices so many people are facing even today.

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