The best YA novels about immigration

Why am I passionate about this?

My family came to the United States as undocumented immigrants from Guatemala. There is a lot of negative rhetoric being shared about undocumented immigrants. There are many reasons why people make the impossible decision to leave their native countries and travel to the United States. Reading books about these experiences creates empathy, compassion, and understanding.


I wrote...

Where I Belong

By Marcia Argueta Mickelson,

Book cover of Where I Belong

What is my book about?

Guatemalan American high school senior Milagros “Millie” Vargas has lived in Texas ever since her parents sought asylum there when she was a baby. Millie devotes herself to school and caring for her younger siblings while her mom works as a housekeeper for the wealthy Wheeler family.

Mr. Wheeler, a U.S. Senate candidate, mentions Millie’s achievements in a campaign speech about “deserving” immigrants. It doesn’t take long for people to identify Millie’s family and place them at the center of a statewide immigration debate. Faced with journalists, trolls, anonymous threats, and the Wheelers’ good intentions—especially those of Mr. Wheeler’s son, Charlie—Millie must confront the complexity of her past, the uncertainty of her future, and her place in the country that she believed was home.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Indivisible

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did I love 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.

By Daniel Aleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indivisible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

There is a word Mateo Garcia and his younger sister Sophie have been taught to fear for as long as they can remember: deportation. Over the past few years, however, the fear that their undocumented immigrant parents could be sent back to Mexico has started to fade to the back of their minds. And why wouldn't it, when their Ma and Pa have been in the United States for so long, they have American-born children, and they're hard workers and good neighbors?

When two ICE agents come asking for Pa, the Garcia family realizes that the lives they've built are…


Book cover of Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did I love 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.

By Laekan Zea Kemp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pasteleria next to her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans -- leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she's been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho's who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she's been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little…


Book cover of The Sun Is Also a Star

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did I love 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.

By Nicola Yoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sun Is Also a Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything - coming as a major film starring Yara Shahidi in 2019.

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything. Now a major film starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton!

Natasha-
I'm a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny.

Or dreams that will never come true. I'm definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him.

Not when my family is twelve hours away from…


Book cover of Esperanza Rising

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did I love 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.

By Pam Muñoz Ryan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Esperanza Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Esperanza Rising joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

Esperanza thought she'd always live a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike…


Book cover of We Are Not from Here

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did I love 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.

By Jenny Torres Sanchez,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We Are Not from Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border, inspired by current events.

A Pura Belpré 2021 Young Adult Author Honor Book!
A BookPage Best Book of 2020!
A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best of 2020!
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2020!
A New York Public Library 2020 Top 10 Best Book for Teens!

Pulga has his dreams.
Chico has his grief.
Pequeña has her pride.

And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they've grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even…


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The Pact

By Lisa Darcy,

Book cover of The Pact

Lisa Darcy Author Of The Pact

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Cat lover Traveler Reader Amateur tennis player Foodie

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Pact is a contemporary fiction novel about Australian sisters, Samantha and Annie, who are doubles tennis champions. This story amplifies the usual sibling issues and explores their professional partnership and personal relationships – similarities, differences, motivation, competition, abandonment, and grief – and how they each respond to the stress of constantly being under the media spotlight.

What happens when, at the pinnacle of fame, it all falls apart?

With dreams shattered and egos destroyed, how do they cope?

I have an older sister and although our rapport isn’t as dramatic, or as close, for that matter, I was able…

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