12-year-old Julia keeps a diary about her life growing up in Juarez, Mexico. Life in Juarez is strange. People say its the murder capital of the world. Dad’s gone a lot. They can’t play outside because it isn’t safe. Drug cartels rule the streets. Cars and people disappear, leaving behind pet cats. Then Dad disappears and Julia and her brother go live with her aunt in El Paso. What’s happened to her Dad? Julia wonders. Is he going to disappear forever? A coming-of-age story set in today’s Juarez.
The Everything I Have LostFeatured
What worked: Authentic with it's unflinching portrayal of a young teen who lives in Juarez, Mexico. Julia writes down her reflections in a diary of growing up in a border town. The emotions are real with how she questions her father's line of work; why the adults speak in whispers about the violence in town; her anger at her mother for not being totally truthful ; and her fears of fitting in at a U.S. high school.
I felt the world of Julia was very realistic with how it angers her when the adults in her life are afraid to share the 'truth' on what is happening around her. She gets glimpses of what is happening when a neighbor suddenly 'disappears'. Or when it's almost casually announced that her PE teacher died suddenly. Around her the whispers tell a different story. One that involves her beloved Papi. One that is almost too horrific to accept.
There's also mention of muertas de Juarez. The dead women of Juarez. Julia and her classmates are told to be careful and not walk outside alone at dark and not to speak to strangers. Her whole life she's trapped inside her house. Afraid to leave or even to answer the phone.
Julia's entries also show her friendships that one minute are good and the other not so good. Her sadness at watching her beloved bis's decline in health. Also her growing anger at her mother for keeping secrets from her.
The journal format is perfect and is sure to resonated with readers. You're sucked right into Julia's life. The portrayals of not only Juarez, Mexico, but her fears and wishes are realistic.
Coming-of-age novel of a young Mexican teen shown through her diary entries. This story gives a voice to current issues at the border.