Friday, November 6, 2009

Just Like Us, only maybe better students

Author Helen Thorpe was brought to the US as a 1-year-old child by her Irish parents, so it's not surprising that as a journalist, she's still interested in what the immigrant experience is like for young people. At a talk she gave yesterday at CU, she explained that she had been looking for one teen from Mexico to write about, when she lucked into meeting a group of four best friends, one a US citizen by birth, one with a green card, and two with no papers.

I nearly stood up and cheered at Thorpe's first statement, that her goal in writing Just Like Us was to present the facts and details of the lives of these four young women, letting readers come to their own conclusions about how it all relates to immigration, education, economics, etc. I find it so hard to read books where the author tries to tell me exactly what my reaction should be, or make sure it's the one they author has decided I should have.

I was also impressed by Thorpe's commitment to the project: she spent five years following the girls from age 17 to 22. She also covered debates on immigration, including at least one where her own husband, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, was a participant - she said that caused some awkwardness for her as a writer! Thorpe even spent time with Tom Tancredo, currently one of the strongest anti-immigrant voices in the US.

One aha! moment that I'd never put together before: you can't board an airplane if you don't have a government-issued ID, which you probably don't have if your parents brought you into the US without benefit of immigration papers. You could end up in the contradictory position of being an immigrant unable to do much migrating.


No comments:

Post a Comment