Where I Belong
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About the Author
Cast into the political firestorm of an aspiring U.S. senator's campaign, a Guatemalan immigrant teen grapples with her newfound notoriety.
It's the end of Milagros Vargas' senior year of high school in Corpus Christi, Texas. So far, aspiring marine biologist Millie's accepted a spot at Stanford, although her mom doesn't yet know this. As Millie became the second caretaker of her family after her father's death, her mom expanded her housekeeping job for the Wheelers, an affluent White family. For Millie, Mr. Wheeler's campaign for the U.S. Senate means her mom will be away from her family more, caring for the Wheelers' young daughter. Then, the senatorial candidate highlights Millie and her family as examples of exemplary immigrants during a campaign speech, resulting in public support as well as hostility from internet trolls and anonymous haters. When someone sets the Vargas home on fire, they have no choice but to accept the offer to temporarily move in with the Wheelers, even as Millie finds herself inexplicably drawn toward their son, Charlie. Setting her story against the backdrop of a nameless, anti-immigrant White House administration, Mickelson does a remarkable job of plunging into complex issues with tremendous nuance. Millie's acquired U.S. citizenship, after arriving as an undocumented asylum seeker, further complicates the discourse, raising stark questions around common debates about which immigrants 'deserve' to be welcomed. Full of thought-provoking conversations, messy answers, and lots of heart, this novel's a quiet knockout.
Utterly compelling.--starred, Kirkus Reviews