By Francisco Jimenez
Most enjoyed by 6th through 8th graders
Trying to fit in is hard. We want to be accepted so we try to be like everyone else, wearing the same clothes, styling our hair just so, and making sure we have the right stuff - i-pods, video games. Francisco feels the same way. He is entering 6th grade and wants to be like the other happy, carefree kids in his class. But he has a secret that hangs over his head. Francisco is here illegally.
One day, fear becomes reality. La migra, the immigration police, come for him at school, take him out of his class in front of the other students, and tell his family they have 48 hours to pack up their belongings and get on a bus to the border of Mexico. There, they will be sent back to Mexico, back to the extreme poverty they left in the first place.
Francisco's family returns to America legally shortly afterwards, but the stigma of being Mexican follows Francisco. He faces discrimination on many fronts, works long hours to help support his family, and longs for an education to carry him from the poverty that lurks around each corner. The fact that he is able to succeed and consider college is testament to the love and support of his family as well as the hard work and determination of a young man destined to rise beyond the harsh reality of discrimination.
'Breaking Through' is an excellent choice for older junior high readers. It opens up thoughts and discussions on illegal immigration and discrimination. Readers will find as they read that they are putting themselves in Francisco's shoes, imagining getting to work at 6AM before school, cleaning an office, going to school all day, going to the library to do homework until the next job then working until late in the evening. One closes the book thinking, could I do that?
One of the titles in the We the People bookshelf, 'Breaking Through' is a book that will stay with readers long past the final page.