We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

We are not from here cover

Rating: 5/5

What It’s About:

Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña have no false illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Though their families–both biological and found–create a warm community for them, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the three teens know they have no choice but to run: for the border, for the hope of freedom, and for their very lives.

Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico with their eyes on the U.S. border, they follow the route of La Bestia, a system of trains that promise the hope of freedom–if they are lucky enough to survive the harrowing journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and the desperation that courses through their very veins, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know that there’s no turning back, dangerous though the road ahead might be.

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The Review

Y’all, this book shook me to my core. It’s one of the few books that made me ugly cry. It’s been on my Kindle for quite some time and I finally got to read it. I felt so many while reading We Are Not From Here. The story is told only from the perspective of two characters, Pulga and Pequeña. It opened my eyes to the harrowing journey that millions people have made and the dangerous living situations that many are escaping from.

The Characters

I LOVED the three main characters. Each character had a unique personality, story, and perspective on life but were all connected by strong familial bonds. The author did an amazing job creating complex characters that evolved throughout the story. I felt a strong connection to each of them and I felt so much worry for their welfare throughout the book.

Pequeña’s storyline was most impacting to me because she was raped, became pregnant, and abandoned her baby when she left to the border. The emotional turmoil that she felt was tough to experience. The topics that stood out to me were:

  • rape victims
  • becoming pregnant from rape / children as products of rape
  • the birthing experience
  • the postpartum experience (which I have never come across in a book before)

Pequeña’s character also brings in a little bit of magical realism because she has visions and dreams throughout the story when she is having a traumatic experience, feels foreboding moments of danger, or is losing willpower to continue on.

Even the characters they meet along the way were realistic. The teens met people who were made efforts to help them with such compassion, some would do only the job they were paid to do, and some tried to do them harm or take advantage of the teens. There were so many risks and dangers while traveling that didn’t even involve humans. The teens could get lost, get injured or die from riding the train, or die of starving or dehydration. Thinking about all the things working against them and yet they, it makes their desperation and determination to escape all the more real.

The Writing Style

We Are Not From Here is filled with alternating pacing of adrenaline filled danger and slower times that reflect the tedious parts of the journey. This pacing felt very realistic and made me feel like I was experiencing the exhausting journey along with the characters. The author’s writing style was just perfect. The inner thoughts, dialogue between characters, descriptions of the setting/landscape, and action scenes were all so well done.

Final Thoughts

We Are Not From Here is one of those books that I think everyone should read if they get a chance. The epic of immigration is so complex and has many facets to it. This book gives readers a chance to see it from the eyes of characters experiencing it. I also appreciate the authors note that explains her research and the sources used for writing the book. We Are Not From Here is definitely be a book that can spark challenging but necessary discussions about immigration experiences, laws, and migrant camps.

If you are looking for more books with Latinx characters to read, check out my Latinx book list!

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought.

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