Review: Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

Copy courtesy of Bettina Restrepo
Release Date: Mar 1, 2011

Nora's father left his family in Mexico and goes to the US in order to better provide for the family. Years later, he still has not returned, and he has stopped contacting them. Nora, her mother, and her grandmother are left in dire straits because they do not have enough money so Nora makes a desperate decision to also go to the US with her mother to try to find her father.

I didn't read any synopses of this story before I started so I didn't have a good idea what was going to happen although I did have some hints from the title. Nevertheless, it was not quite what I expected it to be; it was better.

The story is gritty in its depiction of a desperate situation but never in a hyper-realistic or overdramatic sort of way. The events are depicted in a way that moves the reader and tugs at your heartstrings even as you are anxious for Nora, her mother, her father, and her grandmother's well being. Granted, there are some moments where Nora's character comes off as selfish and naive and some of the scenes in Texas feel stilted, but these are minor detractors to the overall power of the story.

This is plain good storytelling which documents a journey from the deep reasons it starts to its fitting conclusion at journey's end. You should not go into reading this expecting a light read as it gives a very human face to a deeply divisive political issue (in the US at least). I applaud Bettina Restrepo's debut offering; it's something you should read.

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

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Edit: This is now a Book Review Party Post


15 comments: Jump to Comment Form

I've been avoiding this one a bit, but I am intrigued by good story telling.


@brandi did you get an arc of it?


Good Review! Sounds like an interesting book!


I'm really loving the premise of this one. I like that it focuses on a political issue and is not a light read, like you said.


I like the "plain good storytelling". It is this most of us look for in a book.


I'm so glad I came across this review because I hadn't heard of the author or this book. I'm definitely adding this one to my wishlist. It sounds really good. Plus whenever Texas is mentioned, it becomes a must read for me.


l haven't heard about this book!
l love books which give you a insight into something.


Can't believe I missed this review, I am glad you liked it. I'm thinking of pre ordering it hehe


This seems like a good read. I read The Tortilla Curtain last year, and I think that it's important for us here in the U.S. especially to see the human face of this divisive debate. Thanks for the review.


Never heard of this one, but it does sound promising. May have to give it a chance if I ever stumble across it. Nice review.

Came here via Cym Lowell's blog.


It's great to find out more information about this novel. I love political novels. Sounds great!


Thank you for all of the wonderful comments! This entry closes out this blogs contest entries. Winners will be announced on my FB/Twitter accounts on April 1!


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