When Jacinta Juarez is paired with a rich, famous mentor, she is swept away from the diapers and dishes of her own daily life into a world of new experiences. But crossing la linea into Miss’s world is scary. Half of Jacinta aches for the comfort of Mamá and the familiar safety of the barrio, while the other half longs to embrace a future that offers more than cleaning stuff for white people. When her family is torn apart, Jacinta needs to bring the two halves of herself together to win back everything she's lost. Can she channel the power she’s gained from her mentor and the strength she’s inherited from Mamá to save her shattered home life?
Rose's strong debut explores the challenging lives of undocumented Mexican immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens. Jacinta, almost 12, and her two sisters were born in America; the family ekes out a living in Colorado, in constant fear of her parents' deportation. When a local television anchorwoman comes into her life, Jacinta whose mother is caring for her own dying mother in Mexico longs for her to become her mentor in the community center's Amiga program; she is unprepared for the cultural issues and conflicting emotions that arise when her wish is granted. Rose convincingly depicts Jacinta's struggles as she explores aspects of upper-middle-class culture French and gymnastics lessons, theater and ballet performances while coping with the instability and grimness of barrio life and desperately missing her mother. The well-meaning anchorwoman has her own flaws, which make her a fully dimensional, credible character. A moving portrayal of a girl's effort to embrace both her Mexican roots and the possibilities of American life, as well as an affecting look at an important contemporary issue. Ages 10 up.