A funny and poignant memoir about how as a teenager, TV writer Rafael Agustin (Jane The Virgin) accidentally discovered he was undocumented and how that revelation turned everything he thought he knew about himself and his family upside down.
Growing up, Rafa’s parents didn't want him to feel different because, as his mom told him: "Dreams should not have borders." But when he tried to get his driver's license during his junior year of high school, his parents were forced to reveal his immigration status. Suddenly, the kid who modeled his entire high school career after American TV shows had no idea what to do -- there was no episode of Saved by the Bell where Zack gets deported! While his parents were relieved to no longer live a lie in front of their son, Rafa found himself completely unraveling in the face of his uncertain future.
Illegally Yours is a heartwarming, comical look at how this struggling Ecuadorian immigrant family bonded together to navigate Rafa's school life, his parents' work lives, and their shared secret life as undocumented Americans, determined to make the best of their always turbulent and sometimes dangerous American existence. From using the Ricky Martin/Jennifer Lopez “Latin Explosion” to his social advantage in the ‘90s to how his parents—doctors in their home country of Ecuador—were reduced to working menial jobs in the US, the family's secret became their struggle, and their struggle became their hustle. An alternatingly hilarious and touching exploration of belonging and identity, Illegally Yours revolves around one very simple question: What does it mean to be American?
Television writer Agustin makes a splashy debut with this humorous account of coming-of-age, undocumented, in Southern California. Born in Ecuador to two doctors, Agustin arrived in the United States in the late 1980s at age seven, only to be disappointed that the America he'd watched obsessively on TV was nowhere to be found. While his parents struggled to juggle English classes with his father's graveyard shifts as a sleep technician, Agustin writes, "Things seemed to be worse here than they were in Ecuador." Meanwhile, Agustin wrestled with his identity, eventually coming to learn two life-altering things while attending public school: one, that he wasn't white, and two, that he was undocumented a revelation, he wittily recalls, "that was like an end-of-the-world-comet hitting my frosted-tipped head." As he reckons with being "illegal" (his family came to the U.S. on tourist visas that expired) and traces his path to finding liberation through the world of acting, and, later, TV writing, Agustin offers poignant musings on the difficulties of existing in a country where the notion of race "is mostly understood as a Black and white paradigm." What emerges is an inspiring and often hilarious story that echoes Agustin's mother's refrain: "Dreams should not have borders." Funny as he is, Agustin is a serious talent.