Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“His pain hit me harder and deeper than anything I had felt in my life. And yet I kept nodding. We were all doing the best we could. Trying to survive.”
Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher is absolutely soul-crushing, primarily because although it’s a dystopian fiction, I can see the utter reality in this story. There are frightening realities that hit way too close to home and what’s been happening in the world today.
Vali, her 8-year-old brother, Ernie and her mother live in Vermont in the not too distant future of 2032. The US has cracked down hard on undocumented immigration and has installed microchips in to all documented citizen. Vali and her family have counterfeit chips and when Vali’s moms chip starts to malfunction, she and Ernie have to make the frightening trip across the country – on foot - to her Tia Luna’s home in California, currently a safe state and ‘walled’ off.
Mendoza writes about the power and brutality of the Deportation Force and the struggle of undocumented immigrants, she focuses on real people, not statistics that are easily sweep under the rug. The presence of labor camps where the ‘illegals pay off their debt to America’ is absolutely horrifying and reminiscent of the forced labor camps across Europe during WWII. Microchipping citizens seems like a far away concept but is it really? Sanctuary gave me a lot to think about, not only the strength of one young girl fighting to save herself and her brother but of just how realistic this dystopian fiction felt to me. It also shows the deception of the media, showing citizens (or not showing) what the government wants us to see. I must admit, this had a terrifying lifelike reality to me, especially in light of recent world events.
Sanctuary is a page-turner, and as I said earlier, it is all the more chilling for the fact that if feels all too possible. I’m hopeful for the prospect of a sequel because I don’t think Vali’s story is quite finished yet.
My thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Penguin Teen, and authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher for providing me this DRC in exchange for my honest review.
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