By Kirkus Reviews
In this novel, three teens, each hoping for a better life, head to the East Coast of the U.S. with nefarious types at their heels.
Mexican American orphan Arturo “Turi” Martinez envisions Connecticut as the ideal place. It’s worlds apart from the El Paso desert and far away from his abusive uncle and rancorous aunt. When he sees his chance to flee, he takes it. Turi joins Arnulfo Muñoz, an undocumented Mexican he’s previously worked with; they hitch a ride northeast toward the New England states each teen has his eyes on. But once Turi suspects the driver is transporting contraband, he and Arnulfo feel their only option is to speed away in the man’s blue pickup. This, however, only escalates their perils. The truck hides potentially dangerous cargo, and menacing people want to get their hands on that pickup. Along the way, the teens meet Molly Crump, who, also unhappy with her home life, joins their adventure. She and Turi hit it off, but even if they reach their destination, they may not be safe from the pursuing threat. Troncoso (A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son, 2019, etc.) delivers a surprisingly fast-paced, character-driven story. For example, readers watch Turi evolve from a meek 16-year-old loner to a capable young man who genuinely cares for his “semi-friend” Arnulfo. At the same time, the road trip keeps the tightly plotted narrative moving across the country, all while villains (there are quite a few) close in. The cast also shines, including one criminal henchman harboring a tender affection for his “hulking giant” of a partner. The author rounds out his memorable tale by touching on contemporary topical issues, like prejudices against caramel skin and undocumented immigrants.
A sublime, diverse cast drives this tale of looking for a safe, welcoming home.