The church doors swing wide just as the padre is giving his blessing. Analicia Rosario Menéndez is fifteen when her brother, Junior, is arrested in the middle of her quinceañera. Soon after, Ana’s Spanish teacher Ms. García disappears, leaving behind her five-year-old son. During a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ana’s father, Dr. Menéndez, is detained. Paralyzed by government forces that make her feel like her world is falling apart, Ana is tired of feeling powerless. Living in a small town along the southern border of New Mexico, someone has to know something, don’t they? Ana, desperate to find the truth, reaches out to those around her. Will her friends, Rose and Imani, help, or will they turn their backs? Holding On To Hope explores the complex realities facing families and community members living under constant deportation threats. This book is a must-read!
ADDITIONAL REVIEWS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
If you want to understand the human costs of the immigration crisis at our southern border, you’ll learn . . . and feel . . . much of what you want to know by reading this book. Catalina Claussen’s characters help us to understand the issues of undocumented people, DACA recipients, and even border patrol agents. All of these people are relatives of the three teenaged girlfriends who tell us their stories, in perfectly pitched language.
Alethea Eason –
As a retired reading specialist, it is my wish that Holding On To Hope would be included in summer reading lists, ordered for middle and high school libraries, and become part of English and social studies curriculum throughout the United States. Catalina Clausen has written an important novel that looks at the effects that the immigration crisis along the New Mexico/Mexico border has on families. The novel revolves around the friendship of three high school girls, Ana, Imani, and Rose. Ana’s older brother is arrested on the day of her quinceanera. Imani’s mother is a social worker who is worried about the mental health of the young men she tries to serve who await release or deportation. Rose’s father is a Border Patrol agent. All the girls live in families that are hurting. They are doing their best to cope, go to school, and deal with being young people in an imperfect world. Their friendship is the one thing that they can count on. The stories depicted in Holding On To Hope are based on real events. The novel rings true emotionally and in depicting the every day reality of living in the borderland.
Julia Robinson –
I couldn’t put this book down! Although it is Ana’s family that lives in constant fear of deportation, it is Rose’s relationship with her father, a border agent, that is the most poignant and telling. Those of us who live along the border know the story Catalina Claussen tells SO well, but perhaps if it were required reading in middle and high schools in the rest of the country, the next generation will understand the complexities of immigration reform well enough to vote responsibly and do what they can do end this humanitarian crisis. The teenagers and their families are modeled after real people, which is probably why they come across as so believable. The open ending provokes discussion and hopefully even some activism.