In the beginning Flora saw herself as the hero. Her family had made the difficult decision to send her across the Mexican border into the United States. Yes, the crossing had been illegal, but if Flora could make it in America then eventually her family could join her and escape the crushing poverty and danger of life in their home country. However, her dream quickly dissolved into a nightmare. Mateo, the man that her Papa had said was like family in Southern California, turned out to be cold and indifferent to her. She found herself living in a small house with 14 other people, one of whom sexually abused her on her very first night. Although a green card allowed her to attend school, her poor hygiene due to her squalid living conditions and her lack of English resulted in her being mercilessly teased and bullied by her classmates. Eventually, she found a way to cope, at least temporarily, with her pain, but would the cure kill her?
In this fast-paced and well-written novella, Flora is realistically depicted as are the extreme dangers of social isolation. Finding only brief comfort in cutting, she finally attempts suicide, a move toward death that ironically leads her to life when she gets the help from professionals that she needs to start her on a new path and help battle her depression.
As a former child immigrant, Foster has an insider's view of some of the pressures and dynamics her protagonist faces. And as a health professional who has worked extensively with troubled teens, she has an intimate knowledge of the resources available to make a difference in young lives. The result is a believable and inspiring tale of one girl's journey from despair to hope.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review