Updated: Feb 1
Cisneros, Ernesto. (2020). Efrén Divided. NY: Harper Collins.
Middle Grades, 4th-6th.
Efrén Nava's family lives in constant fear of La Migra. Efrén and his twin 5 year-old siblings were born in the United States, his parents in Mexico. Life is tough for the Nava family. The parents work hard to provide for their children as well as making them feel safe and loved.
Efrén not only worries about his family, but is beginning to feel conflicted and frustrated with happenings at school and with his best friend.
Then, one day, his mother is taken my immigration and deported to Mexico, leaving the family to pick up the pieces. Efrén must now take care of his siblings - feeding them, getting them ready for school and bed, taking them to school, and answering their unending questions about the whereabouts of their mom. All the while, Efrén's dad is working extra jobs and shifts, barely home to shower and sleep a few hours, to save enough money to bring mom home. Efrén is torn and even more frustrated now. Who can he trust to tell what has happened to his family? How can he possibly do his homework and focus in school? Where will he find money to buy food and do laundry? How can he help bring his mom home? What happened to his new friend Jennifer? And will his best friend David ever talk to him again?
Being brave is hard, as Efrén realizes when he must cross the U.S-Mexico border on his own. His journey shows him not only how brave he can be and how others look out for each other, but also the realities of border life. Images of families at El Muro stay with him and give him the courage to work on pulling off his own milagros. "Nos quisieron enterrar, pero no sabían que éramos semillas."
This is a beautifully written story, so genuine, compassionate, and powerful. I couldn't put it down, even when I was having trouble seeing through my tears. Wonderful book!
January 25, 2021: Efrén Divided is awarded the 2021 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award winner.
Book Review by Cassandra E. Osterloh, NHCC Librarian
Available at the NHCC Library YA PZ7.1 .C568 Efr 2020