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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Until I Find Julian* by Patricia Reilly Giff - middle grades book review
Also by Patricia Reilly Giff:

Zigzag Kids #5: Bears Beware

Zigzag Kids #1: Number One Kid

Zigzag Kids #2: Big Whopper

R My Name is Rachel


Wild Girl
Until I Find Julian
by Patricia Reilly Giff
Grades 4-7 160 pages Wendy Lamb Books September 2015 Hardcover    

Mateo knows that his place is at home in Mexico with his family, but when his brother Julian leaves to find work in the United States, Mateo thinks his heart will break. Real life in Mexico with Mami and Abuelita means working to put food on the table. Mami and Abuelita sew late into the night, making scarves and quilts to sell at the market. Mateo works at the car factory after school, sweeping and helping wherever he can, and Julian sends money home from the U.S.

Then one day, the money stops. Mateo is fired for playing around when he is supposed to be working. He wonders all the way home how he will tell his Mami that he has lost his job, that he can no longer contribute to the family.

Tomas and Julian left for the States together, to find work in Arkansas. So why is Tomas standing in the doorway of Mateo’s home now, this same night that Mateo has lost his job? Mateo listens from outside the house and hears Tomas tell of the raid that forced him and Julian to flee their workplace to avoid being arrested. Tomas has not seen Julian since that night and cannot tell Mami what became of him. He can only give her the money that Julian pressed into his hand the night they parted.

Mateo is only 12 years old. To travel by himself across deserts and rivers, to encounter strange men who might help him or might hurt him, to lose all of his money to a thief along the way--these are all unsettling thoughts that crowd into his mind as he contemplates what he must do. There is really only one thing he can do: he must find Julian. He must find a way to go to Arkansas and find his brother.

This is a great story for middle grades that teaches them about immigration issues between Mexico and the United States. Readers will learn much from reading Mateo’s story and will be able to develop their own opinions about what is right and what is wrong. Author Giff always gives this age group a great story with great characters. Angel and Mateo’s story is no exception.
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