Cover image for Efrén divided : a novel
Efrén divided : a novel
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"We need books to break open our hearts, so that we might feel more deeply, so that we might be more human in these unkind times. This is a book doing work of the spirit in a time of darkness." --Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

Efrén Nava's Amá is his Superwoman--or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.

But Efrén worries about his parents; although he's American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn't return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México.

Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

As affecting as it is timely, Cisneros's debut depicts how draconian U.S. immigration policies rip through one Southern California family. At the novel's start, the Nava family lives a hardworking, loving existence--American-born Efrén, the seventh-grade narrator, is mostly concerned with the upcoming school election. But when his undocumented mother is deported after an ICE raid one afternoon, Efrén must care for his five-year-old siblings, one of whom has a learning disability, while his father works extra hours for funds to bring his mother back from Mexico. Cisneros tells this urgent story with focus and heart-wrenching realism, especially concerning the ripple effects of family separation, not just at the border but also among those in the U.S. Cisneros layers in stories of other deportees, underlining the importance of taking part in change as he portrays a community rallying around its most vulnerable members. (Efrén's burnt-out history teacher shares cautionary tales of past exclusionary practices via Martin Niemöller's "First they came for the socialists" poem.) If Efrén seems to shoulder burdens beyond his years with alarming maturity, he mirrors many children in this country who are forced to grow up fast. Ages 8--12. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

A young boy must become an adult overnight when his mother is deported.Twelve-year-old Efrn Nava's world is turned upside down the day he comes back from school and his mother is nowhere to be found. His neighbor Doa Chana tells him that an ICE raid was conducted at the supermarket and that Am was picked up and deported to Mexico. When his father takes on a second job to make ends meet, Efrn becomes the primary caregiver for Ma and Max, his younger twin siblings. Unsure of how much information about his mother's fate to give them, Efrn tries his best to make Am's miracles his own as he struggles to keep his siblings safe, feed them, and take them to school while still dealing with his own schooling. Taking care of Max, whose oxygen supply was cut off during childbirth and has learning disabilities, and figuring out which friends and adults to trust with his secret add layers of responsibility Efrn feels unprepared to deal with. Debut author Cisneros paints a vivid and palpable #ownvoices picture of the lost childhoods as children and parents are separated due to immigration issues. But even as Efrn's world seems to be crashing around him, Cisneros celebrates the kindness of the Mexican American community and its richness of food, culture, and resilient spirit.Honest and tender: a must-read. (Fiction. 8-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Efrén Nava has a tight-knit family Max and Mia, his younger twin siblings; his hard-working father, Apá; and his mom, Queen of the Best Sopes, Amá (otherwise known as ""Soperwoman"" in Efrén's mind), who is the glue that keeps the family together. Efrén is happy with the way his life is going he's working hard at school, spending time with his best friend David, and visiting his school library. But one day, Efrén's world comes crashing down when his beloved Amá gets deported. Now he must do his part in supporting his family, which means helping take care of his siblings, managing money, and being strong for his father, all while keeping up at school and helping David become class president. How long, he wonders, can the family go on without Amá? With matter-of-fact storytelling from Efrén's point of view, Cisneros' debut offers a vivid glimpse into the difficult, tenuous lives of immigrant families, succinctly communicates the heartbreaking impact of deportations, and demonstrates the resiliency of those affected, all grounded in the perspective of a relatable protagonist. This timely middle-grade novel will not only open dialogue with children on the issue of immigration but also encourage conversations on the subjects of kindness, empathy, and activism. A moving novel perfectly pitched to its audience.--Esmeralda Majors Copyright 2020 Booklist