Undocumented: Stories of Young Immigrants

These books highlight the challenges faced by young immigrants who are themselves undocumented or part of mixed-status families. At the same time, these titles capture the resilience and strength of this group of young people who are caught in the web of a broken immigration system.

For related books, see our booklists on Crossing the Border & Immigration Stories.

Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother (Adapted for Young Adults)

Age Level: 14-16

In 2007, Los Angeles Times reporter Sonia Nazario published Enrique's Journey, a book based on her Pulitzer-Prize winning reports about a teenage boy's harrowing trip north to the U.S. from Honduras to find his mother, who had immigrated to the U.S. eleven years earlier. Sonia has now published a Young Adult version of the compelling and gritty book adapted for readers 12 and older.

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided

Age Level: 16-18

Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school.

Just Like Us

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: Just Like Us tells the story of four high school students whose parents entered this country illegally from Mexico. We meet the girls on the eve of their senior prom in Denver, Colorado. All four of the girls have grown up in the United States, and all four want to live the American dream, but only two have documents. Just Like Us is a coming-of-age story about girlhood, friendship, and identity — what it means to steal an identity, what it means to have a public identity, what it means to inherit an identity from parents.

Star in the Forest

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Zitlally's family is undocumented, and her father has just been arrested for speeding and deported back to Mexico. As her family waits for him to return — they've paid a coyote to guide him back across the border — they receive news that he and the coyote's other charges have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom. Meanwhile, Zitlally and a new friend find a dog in the forest near their trailer park. They name it Star for the star-shaped patch over its eye.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Age Level: 14-16

Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? When she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind.

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League

Age Level: 14-16

Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but when their visas lapsed, Dan-el's courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city's homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el's only refuge was the meager library.

We Are Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream

"Perez, a developmental psychologist and professor in Southern California, plumbs the stories of students living with the constant threat of deportation for an answer to the question, 'What does it mean to be an American?' Raised in this country by parents who gained access illegally, the 16 high school, college and post-graduate students profiled here (standing in for 65,000 nationwide) have each embraced our language, culture and collective dream, but are denied pathways to success.