I put this book on my to read list back in May of 2016, shortly after its publication. I don’t remember now what spurred me to do so, but at the end of the day its always the same basic reason – there was a story here that I wanted to know more about. In the Country We Love is Guerrero’s story of growing up the daughter of undocumented immigrants, and the course of her life following their deportments. It’s a big, important story.
You might recognize Diane Guerrero from her television work on Orange is the New Black or Jane the Virgin, but what is less known about Guerrero is that at the age of fourteen her parents were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the United States, Guerrero was able to remain in the country but to do so she and her family depended on the kindness and support of family friends who housed her and cared for her as she fell through the cracks (probably for the best) of the system. The book traces her life both to that point and from it. We are given a look at her parents’ lives in Colombia and the U.S., at her academic and personal struggles and triumphs.
In the pages of In the Country We Love we are given Guerrero’s story, but what it seems to be after is shining light onto the over 11 million undocumented immigrants, many with citizen children, living in the US, whose lives here are just as uncertain as Guerrero’s once was. The book was written with Michelle Burford, and as a memoir aimed at is YA audience it is does a fine job of taking one individual story and showing how it applies on a larger scale (which aligns with Guerrero’s work with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, as well as with Mi Familia Vota, an organization that promotes civic involvement. She has been named an Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization by the White House). It is also told in the sort of bite sized pieces that I assume the authors thought their audience would prefer, or simply the ones that Guerrero was willing to share. However, the telling was uneven, the tone constantly shifting, and by the end I found myself speed reading and skimming.