June 26, 2012

Dealing with deportation

Illegally Blonde
by Nelsa Roberto

When seventeen-year-old Lucy do Amaral dyes her hair blonde, she expects another lecture from her strict parents. She's totally unprepared for the shocking news that her family are illegal aliens who are being deported to their native Portugal. Devastated and furious, all Lucy can think about is missing prom, missing graduation, and being separated from her boyfriend Joel. She's not at all pleased at being stuck in a town and a country that she doesn't remember. Refusing to make the best of things, Lucy schemes and lies in a desperate attempt to get back home. Falling for handsome Filipe Delgado adds to her confusion. Torn between right and wrong, Lucy struggles with conflicted feelings, until she gains some measure of understanding in a rather unexpected way.

Lucy's unhappiness and depression permeates much of the novel. Her determination not to accept her fate can elicit in the reader both exasperation and admiration. But her voice is strong and true. Less well done are secondary character development and situations. The conflict between Felipe and his half-brother seems simplistic and is left unresolved, while the relationship between Lucy and her cousin Marta isn't dealt with until the end of the book. The plot also veers into soap opera territory, with class conflicts, family honor, and even an unhinged matriarch. Still, it is an engaging read that many teens will find enjoyable.

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