MIA GARCIA: I’ve been a fan of Jenny Torres Sanchez’s writing since The Fall of Innocence tore my heart out two years ago. I’ve been a fan of Jenny since way before that, when I met her during the whirlwind that is NYC Teen Author Festival.
Since then Jenny has joined as a Madrina! She is a kind and incredibly thoughtful person both in life and in her writing; which is why I wanted to ask some fellow Musas to take a moment to gush about her heart wrenching new novel, We Are Not From Here.
Below, NoNieqa Ramos (The Truth Is), Yamile Saied Méndez (On These Magic Shores), Alexandra Villasante (The Grief Keeper), and I (Mia García, The Resolutions) discuss what makes We Are Not From Here a stunning novel, why we need it, and why you need to read it... but first a little bit about the novel:
A poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border, inspired by current events.
Pulga has his dreams.
Chico has his grief.
Pequeña has her pride.
And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they've grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home.
Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life--if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.
In this striking portrait of lives torn apart, the plight of migrants at the U.S. southern border is brought to light through poignant, vivid storytelling. An epic journey of danger, resilience, heartache, and hope.
MIA: I don’t know about y'all, but when I started reading We Are Not From Here I felt that pang of envy because it was so good, so beautifully crafted, like a tapestry coming to life before me. Like, how dare this be so good, as I turned the page demanding more! I immediately connected to Pequeña and her chapters; the descriptive details, the pain, the longing. The way Jenny used magical realism to shape Pequeña’s emotional and physical journey was just stunning. And, of course, I can’t forget Pulga and Chico, as the three of them embark on this journey together, relying on each other, pushing each other forwards toward a hope they hold in their hearts. It is also a story told with incredible respect and dignity to the people who continue to make this journey and lose their lives to this journey every day. Read it, share it, talk about it. Follow Jenny and dive into their work, I promise you, you will not be disappointed.
NONIEQA: Like Mia said, the writing is so good you’ll see red with jealousy. There’s a reason Jenny is a Madrina. But to back it up, I procrastinated starting this book. I knew I needed to read it to fully understand my social responsibility. But I also knew the material would be so heavy. This novel is a scream of intergenerational trauma, a manifesto, a stunning and devastating poem, a memorial, and a prayer for justice. My heart ached for Pulga, Pequeña, and Chico and every child like them making this same treacherous journey-- just like I anticipated it would. But for every ounce of me that was gutted, Jenny’s golden prose filled the space with a renewed fervor for justice and hope. This book could convince someone who didn’t get it. In the end, I still found myself procrastinating--because I didn’t want it to end.
ALEXANDRA: I wasn’t familiar with Jenny’s work when I was asked to blurb We Are Not From Here. But I was immediately intrigued by the premise which explored the lives of these children before they are forced to leave their homes and during the brutal experience. I fell in love with Pulga, Chico and especially Pequeña and ached for them as they fought to survive. The story of their journey is searing and beautiful and it will stay in my memory for a long time. Jenny Torres Sanchez is a masterful storyteller as she weaves threads of reality, hope, empathy and love throughout this book. More than anything, her book is about the courage the ‘smallest’ of us have to live, even in the face of formidable injustices.
YAMILE: This story captivated me since the moment I first saw the cover. The expression in Pequeña’s eyes pierced my heart. However, I was afraid to read it. I knew it would be a hard journey. But then I realized how much harder the journey is for the children who made that trek North every day, whose names we’ll never know, whose lives are cut short before they had the time to even start living. I picked up the book, and I didn’t stop reading until the end. Jenny’s masterful words still resonate inside me. I’ll never forgive this story that shows the bleak reality of how unfair and hard life is for some. But it also shows the beauty of the human heart: resilience, friendship, hope, courage, and love.
We Are Not From Here is out NOW and you can find it wherever books are sold! CLICK HERE to snag a copy via Las Musas Bookshop.
More About NoNi, Yami, Alex, and Mia
NoNieqa Ramos is an educator, literary activist, and writer of THE DISTURBED GIRL’S DICTIONARY, a 2018 New York Public Library Best Book for Teens. Hip Latina named her sophomore book THE TRUTH IS as “10 of the Best Latinx Young Adult Books of 2019.” Versify will publish her debut picture book BEAUTY WOKE spring 2021 and YOUR MAMA fall 2021.
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