All The Stars Denied

By School Library Journal

A harrowing account of a lesser known episode in the United States’ unseemly history of discriminatory immigration policies. Estrella del Toro is witnessing change all around her Monteseco, TX, community. Empty homes and classrooms denote the friends and neighbors being “repatriated,” or deported en masse to Mexico during the 1930s, many of whom are American citizens and never lived in Mexico. The “mexicanos” who remain face bigotry from Anglo-owned businesses who refuse services and segregate sections of their town. Activism runs in Estrella’s family, but after speaking out against the injustices, the authorities retaliate against the del Toro family, rounding them up, burning their ranch to the ground, and forcefully boarding them onto trains headed toward Mexico. Estrella, her mother, and toddler brother struggle to reunite with her father, navigating unjust policies and unfamiliar bureaucracies. “How vulnerable we are in this strange land,” she laments. Samples from Estrella’s notebook, including poems, in the form of eco-poetry, newspaper clippings, telegrams, and unsent letters are featured between chapters to document their journey and express her outrage. The treatment of Mexicanos and Depression-era rhetoric will ring disturbingly familiar to readers mindful of today’s headlines. Back matter includes an author’s note, recommendations for further reading, and a glossary for the Spanish phrases used throughout. VERDICT An intense and enlightening historical fiction title that’s highly recommended for all libraries.

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