Just Say Yes

Holt. Jan. 2024. 320p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781250863249.
Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Jimena Ramos learns that although her family immigrated to New York City legally from Peru when she was a toddler, their visa expired years ago and she is now living in the United States illegally. Desperate to change that, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes her through a maze of online dating and creepy classifieds in search of a green card marriage. Jimena finds friendship and a confidant in her Russian American neighbor, Vitaly, but will she be able to hold onto this in her race against time to secure her place in the only home she’s ever known? Moldavsky was, like Jimena, born in Peru, and the novel is full of Spanish conversations between Jimena and her mother. The language flows naturally and is easily understood, making the story accessible to a diverse population of readers. Through laughter, love, and unforeseen challenges, readers follow Jimena in a tale that delicately balances the lighthearted moments with the profound struggles of living in the shadows. Jimena’s charming wit brings humor to what could have been a heavy narrative, and does so without trivializing the experience. Here is a novel that brightly celebrates resilience, determination, and the universal desire for a place to call home.
VERDICT A great romance with characters who, despite ridiculous moments, have relatable anxieties and fears. A first good purchase for any library serving teens, but especially for collections where there might be a need for a lighter companion to The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

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