(My book club generally reads 3-5 books per month, so it’s very rare that I actually read them all).
When we met together to discuss, everyone listed this one as their favorite of the month’s picks and I was so sad I’d missed it!
Based on all their raves, I picked it for the June book for Everyday Reading Book Club and now that I’ve read it, I know they weren’t wrong.
It is PHENOMENAL.
Efrén Divided BY ERNESTO CISNEROS
Efrén and his family (his parents and his younger twin siblings) live in southern California – it’s not an easy life for their family, with both his parents working hard to provide for themselves and their children and it’s made worse by the fact that both his Amá and Apá are undocumented and they live in a constant state of fear that they’ll be deported.
And early on in the book, that nightmare becomes a reality when Efrén returns from school to discover that Amá is gone and she’s been sent to Mexico.
Suddenly, Efrén is not just responsible for keeping up with his school work, but also for keeping up with his little brother and sister – feeding them, getting them to school, and taking care of them in the afternoons. And not only does he miss Amá desperately and fears she might never return, but he’s also consumed with worry about his Apá who is now working two jobs – a day and a night shift – to both make up for the lack of Amá’s income AND earn enough money to pay for Amá’s return.
It’s all a lot for a middle school boy to carry, especially when he feels like he can’t talk to anyone about it, including his best friend who is running for class president, and his perfect grades start to slip under the pressure.
He’s always seen his parents as superheroes but now it looks like he’s going to have to become his own superhero if there is any chance of their family ever being reunited.
I LOVED Efrén Divided – it manages to be both fast paced (I read the whole thing in a couple of hours) and thoughtful, which is a tricky balance for an author to pull off.
And when I discovered that this was Ernesto Cisneros’ debut novel, I was blown away. I can’t wait to see what he writes next.
And I really can’t wait to talk about this book next week in Everyday Reading Book Club.