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My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope

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Before landing a spot on the megahit Netflix show Orange is the New Black; before wowing audiences as Lina on Jane the Virgin; and before her incredible activism and work on immigration reform, Diane Guerrero was a young girl living in Boston. One day, while Guerrero was at school, her undocumented immigrant parents were taken from their home, detained, and deported. Guerr Before landing a spot on the megahit Netflix show Orange is the New Black; before wowing audiences as Lina on Jane the Virgin; and before her incredible activism and work on immigration reform, Diane Guerrero was a young girl living in Boston. One day, while Guerrero was at school, her undocumented immigrant parents were taken from their home, detained, and deported. Guerrero's life, which had been full of the support of a loving family, was turned upside down.


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Before landing a spot on the megahit Netflix show Orange is the New Black; before wowing audiences as Lina on Jane the Virgin; and before her incredible activism and work on immigration reform, Diane Guerrero was a young girl living in Boston. One day, while Guerrero was at school, her undocumented immigrant parents were taken from their home, detained, and deported. Guerr Before landing a spot on the megahit Netflix show Orange is the New Black; before wowing audiences as Lina on Jane the Virgin; and before her incredible activism and work on immigration reform, Diane Guerrero was a young girl living in Boston. One day, while Guerrero was at school, her undocumented immigrant parents were taken from their home, detained, and deported. Guerrero's life, which had been full of the support of a loving family, was turned upside down.

30 review for My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope

  1. 5 out of 5

    TL

    I won a copy via Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.:) ---- Confession: Didn't know this was the edition for younger readers when I entered the giveaway.. my bad haha. The good: Her personal story is compelling, my heart broke for her and her family and what they had to endure. I think she was brave for sharing her personal story, including all the warts and fears. I love how passionate she is in her activism as well and I admire her for keeping on figh I won a copy via Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.:) ---- Confession: Didn't know this was the edition for younger readers when I entered the giveaway.. my bad haha. The good: Her personal story is compelling, my heart broke for her and her family and what they had to endure. I think she was brave for sharing her personal story, including all the warts and fears. I love how passionate she is in her activism as well and I admire her for keeping on fighting. The bad/so-so/indifferent: The cover illustration/drawing is nicely done, but a bit out of place. Maybe it's better for the younger readers and all... just think the creative team could have done better. The writing is good but sometimes felt a little awkward in this edition. I'm assuming some of those may have been re-written for its intended audience? It didn't pull me out of the narrative, but it did cross my mind from time to time. The last chapter seemed out of place with the rest of the book. I'm not wading into any political waters here but it seemed to stand out in Vibe from the rest of the book (may have been the intention). Worth the read, and I appreciate winning it but won't be buying a copy for myself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ALEXA

    It was really heartbreaking to read Diane Guerrero’s story, though you could certainly tell it had been condensed down into this version friendly for a younger audience. It’s a story that shares the real experiences of many folks in our country, and I think the way it’s told makes it a story that we can learn from, empathize with and be inspired by.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Satvika B. 8B

    This book was so heart warming and beautiful. I feel like some people take everything they have for granted, this book really does makes us think about things in our life we usually wouldn't think of. Who is worried about their parents getting deported into a different country everyday, scared to wake up in the morning? This book touched my heart, with tears, happiness and everything in between. It is just amazing how many bumps Diane Guerrero went through to get where she is now. At age 14, al This book was so heart warming and beautiful. I feel like some people take everything they have for granted, this book really does makes us think about things in our life we usually wouldn't think of. Who is worried about their parents getting deported into a different country everyday, scared to wake up in the morning? This book touched my heart, with tears, happiness and everything in between. It is just amazing how many bumps Diane Guerrero went through to get where she is now. At age 14, all alone with no one to take of her. I don't know what I would have done if I was in her shoes. Diane is the most persevered, hopeful person I know. She is just amazing! I have no words. I can't believe many people in the world have to go through the same thing as her, even now as I type. Somehow or somewhere right now there are kids all alone without hope, and I think this book is a real inspiration to them and everyone. My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero is just the best book I have ever read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    C. L.

    A good, honest, important story — just not one that’s very well-written. It’s a shame that a book meant to be about giving someone a voice has so little... well, voice. Still worth it, though. Recommended, but it’s not going to stand out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter Actress Diane Guerrero's father and mother came to the United States from Colombia in the 1980s in order to make a better life for themselves and for their son. They came on a ninety day tourist to visit a sister and did not leave. While they struggled, they were able to hold down jobs and have places to live. They tried to obtain citizenship, but were thwarted by the bureaucracy, as well as by a fraudulent lawyer who took a lot of money for little resul ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter Actress Diane Guerrero's father and mother came to the United States from Colombia in the 1980s in order to make a better life for themselves and for their son. They came on a ninety day tourist to visit a sister and did not leave. While they struggled, they were able to hold down jobs and have places to live. They tried to obtain citizenship, but were thwarted by the bureaucracy, as well as by a fraudulent lawyer who took a lot of money for little results. Diane was born in the US and struggled a bit in school, but had a solid group of friends and enjoyed her life in Boston, eventually attending a performing arts school that got her started on her way to her eventual renown for television shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. When she was 14, her parents were arrested and deported. Luckily, she was able to stay with family friends, and even managed to go to a very nice private college, but her family's situation was never resolved to her satisfaction. The book, which has a few black and white pictures of Guerrero, her family, and friends, shows the effect this had on her. Strengths: This was a fast paced look at how immigration laws affected one family that also talks a bit about how this is a more and more common experience in the US. Weaknesses: I wish that the cover were a photo instead of an illustration, since this is nonfiction. I'm not sure how many children will be familiar with this actress. What I really think: Will purchase this instead of Saedi's Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card as a timely book on a topic of interest and as a read along for books like Restrepo's Illegal.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This autobiography of actress and activist Diane Guerrero chronicles her life from childhood to present-day, opening with the deportation of her parents when she was in high school. Although the writing is sometimes choppy, this is an inspiring story with an appealing cover that should resonate with middle schoolers. I hovered between rating it 3 or 4 stars, but the hopeful story and helpful immigration reform resources tipped the scales.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Gonzalez

    I truly enjoyed experiencing this story through the eyes of child whose parents were deported. It helped me understand the feelings and emotions, the fears and hopes of a child facing family separation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan Schmelzer

    Open Book Reviews by Megan Schmelzer www.openbookreviews.org Stories of immigrant families being separated have been flooding the news recently. Heartbreaking testimonies of young children left to fend for themselves as their parents are sent back to the countries they have immigrated from. Opinions aside, the challenges and hardships these separated families are faced with are extreme. Diane Guerrero's story is just one of the thousands. In My Family Divided, Diane Guerrero tells the story of her Open Book Reviews by Megan Schmelzer www.openbookreviews.org Stories of immigrant families being separated have been flooding the news recently. Heartbreaking testimonies of young children left to fend for themselves as their parents are sent back to the countries they have immigrated from. Opinions aside, the challenges and hardships these separated families are faced with are extreme. Diane Guerrero's story is just one of the thousands. In My Family Divided, Diane Guerrero tells the story of her childhood. As the daughter of immigrants, both of whom were in the country on illegal statuses, Diane's childhood was complicated, yet filled with love. Her parents worked tirelessly to support their family and to try to find a path for them to obtain their legal status. After many years of living paycheck-to-paycheck, Diane’s parents put their trust in a lawyer who said he would help them obtain their green card. Unfortunately, trouble hit them hard when the lawyer disappeared with their hard-earned money. In efforts to still gain their legal status, Diane’s mother tried to take it in her own hands in order to obtain her green card. This only lead to her arrest and deportation. A cycle began. Diane’s mother repeatedly found her way into the United States only to be arrested again and again. As any desperate mother would do, separation from her family was not an option, and she was willing to risk arrest in order to be with her children. This pattern eventually led to her final arrest and permanent deportation. It also led to the discovery of her husband and his eventual deportation as well. The story really picked up when Diane was left in the United States alone. She was a young girl that was now left to fend for herself. To her, the decision to leave her home was not an option. Moving with her parents would mean giving up her life, her future, and everything that she knew. Diane made the decision she know she had to make. Diane chose to stay in the United States alone. For the next several years, Diane moved from home-to-home. She graduated high school, went to college, moved to New York City, and made a name for herself as an actress. Diane Guerrero has fought through all the challenges of her childhood in order to follow her dreams and find success. My Family Divided was a powerful memoir of what is it like for a child of illegal immigrants. It is a story that opens the dialogue about America's Immigration Debate. This story opened my mind to experiences in the United States that I am unfortunately am just not knowledgeable about. It allowed me to understand the experiences and perspective of families that just want the security and opportunities that living in the United States provides its citizens.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I can think of few books more relevant in the current political climate than this one, the middle grade/YA version of the actor and activist's memoir, In the Country We Love. Heart-wrenchingly honest and straightforward, the book describes Diane Guerrero's personal experiences with immigration, thus, providing a human face to the hot button issue of immigration. Not only was Diane's mother deported twice while she was growing up, but both parents were sent back to Columbia when she was 14. Diane I can think of few books more relevant in the current political climate than this one, the middle grade/YA version of the actor and activist's memoir, In the Country We Love. Heart-wrenchingly honest and straightforward, the book describes Diane Guerrero's personal experiences with immigration, thus, providing a human face to the hot button issue of immigration. Not only was Diane's mother deported twice while she was growing up, but both parents were sent back to Columbia when she was 14. Diane could have fallen through the cracks and by the wayside had not the families of some of her friends stepped in to take care of her in the absence of her family. She describes how hard both parents worked and how lost she felt once they were gone. Even though she cherished in her time in a special performing arts high school in Boston and her college experiences, she continued to suffer from their deportation. Hers is an inspiring story since she made plenty of mistakes of her own including keeping herself emotionally distant from her mother and father as well as suffering from depression and cutting herself to release the pressure she felt. Readers will recognize her from various programs, including Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, but even if they don't, her story will make them want to get to know her better. From fangirling over meeting President Obama to providing a list of resources and a call to action for those interesting in opposing some of the immigration policies put forth by the current administration, this woman is clearly one to watch. My main criticism was that I wanted to know so much more of her story and how she coped with essentially being on her own after arriving to an empty house one day. It's clear how loved she was by those parents, judging from the stories she tells and the personal photographs she shares here. I guess I will have to find the adult version of this story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    Diane Guerrero's story is heartbreaking, but timely. Born to immigrants from Colombia who were in the U.S. illegally, Diane learned at a young age that hard work and a desire for a better life were not enough. Her childhood was filled with laughter and love, but there was an underlying fear of deportation. Her parents tried to become U.S. citizens, but the lawyer that Diane's father hired turned out to be a con man and took off with all of their savings. When Diane's mother tried to get U.S. cit Diane Guerrero's story is heartbreaking, but timely. Born to immigrants from Colombia who were in the U.S. illegally, Diane learned at a young age that hard work and a desire for a better life were not enough. Her childhood was filled with laughter and love, but there was an underlying fear of deportation. Her parents tried to become U.S. citizens, but the lawyer that Diane's father hired turned out to be a con man and took off with all of their savings. When Diane's mother tried to get U.S. citizenship on her own, she was arrested and sent back to Colombia. Diane's mother was able to return to Boston, only to be arrested and sent back to Colombia again. When Diane was 14, both of her parents were arrested and deported for good, leaving Diane to fend for herself by relying on the kindness of her friends' parents. Diane suffered emotionally from the trauma of being separated from her family, and in spite of overcoming all odds and graduating from the Boston Arts Academy and then Regis College, she struggled with depression and cutting in her early 20s. At her lowest point, she considered suicide. Thanks to a therapist named Lorraine, Diane turned things around for herself and decided to enroll in acting classes to pursue her dream of performing. With hard work and some luck, Diane landed a role on the hit show Orange is the New Black, then starred in Jane the Virgin. She has decided to use her fame to educate people about immigration reform. This is the young readers' version of Diane Guerrero's memoir In the Country We Love: My Family Divided. I found the writing of this book to be conversational, but it annoyed me that it was filled with colloquialisms (for example, the liberal use of LOL and "dude"). I suppose middle school readers may enjoy that, but I found it off-putting. Nevertheless, Diane's story is important, and the last chapter includes a "call to action" that will hopefully inspire many teens to become more politically active. Recommended for gr. 6-9.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hamilton

    I didn't know Diane Guerrero's story of growing up with parents and a brother who were undocumented immigrants from Colombia, while she was born here. She does a great job setting the scene of a happy family life, despite the long hours both her parents worked and the fear of deportation. But the worst part is when deportation happens, and Diane is left by her mother first, and later by both of her parents and her brother, to stay in this country as a teenager with nothing and no one. This isn't I didn't know Diane Guerrero's story of growing up with parents and a brother who were undocumented immigrants from Colombia, while she was born here. She does a great job setting the scene of a happy family life, despite the long hours both her parents worked and the fear of deportation. But the worst part is when deportation happens, and Diane is left by her mother first, and later by both of her parents and her brother, to stay in this country as a teenager with nothing and no one. This isn't a literary memoir, but it's got some attitude and a lot of perspective. She tells the story of her childhood and her family's struggles in detail, which means that a lot happens in this short book. It is the young reader's edition of her adult book, which I never read, and I'm sure there is more in the adult version. Luckily, this doesn't feel like a poor adaptation of an adult book--it manages to feel like its own book. After we hear Diane's whole story, including how she finally found some success after really bottoming out in college, she gives resources and inspiration for how to help yourself if you're in this situation or help others who might need help to change their legal status. The last chapter is clear about how the current president changes the goals Diane has and many people have for their families. I think plenty of people of all ages need to hear this story, and I'm glad there's an edition for younger readers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is the story of Diane's family. Her parents came to American from Colombia, seeking better opportunities and work options. They worked hard in order to support their children, and kept a low profile in their community, since neither parent was a legal immigrant. When Diane was an early teen, her parents were deported back to Colombia. Diane is a US citizen. Immigration officials never followed up on Diane or her brother, and both teens were left to fend for themselves, staying with friends This is the story of Diane's family. Her parents came to American from Colombia, seeking better opportunities and work options. They worked hard in order to support their children, and kept a low profile in their community, since neither parent was a legal immigrant. When Diane was an early teen, her parents were deported back to Colombia. Diane is a US citizen. Immigration officials never followed up on Diane or her brother, and both teens were left to fend for themselves, staying with friends and attempting to finish high school without the support of their parents. Once she reached college, Diane experienced depression and angst over her experiences, and struggled to find her place. She got some lucky breaks with acting, and unbeknownst to me before reading, Diane Guerrero is one of the actors on "Orange is the New Black" and "Jane the Virgin." Good story about how deportation affects families. This is a YA adaptation of her adult memoir.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeni Enjaian

    I applaud Guerrero's raw honesty in opening herself up to the scrutiny that comes from sharing her personal story. As I read through how she persisted despite the deportation of her parents, through the turmoil and uncertainty, many faces of my current students came to mind. Many of them experience the same thing right now. While the tone of the book shifted from memoir to campaigning towards the end, that shift made sense. I agree with everything she stated one hundred percent. I highly recommen I applaud Guerrero's raw honesty in opening herself up to the scrutiny that comes from sharing her personal story. As I read through how she persisted despite the deportation of her parents, through the turmoil and uncertainty, many faces of my current students came to mind. Many of them experience the same thing right now. While the tone of the book shifted from memoir to campaigning towards the end, that shift made sense. I agree with everything she stated one hundred percent. I highly recommend this book to multiple groups: all teachers and other educational professionals working in schools with a high immigrant (especially Hispanic) population, all students in those schools, all educators period, all young adults period. We all need to know what the others around us experience to develop empathy and compassion, something many lack.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    The author really shows you how difficult the life of an undocumented immigrants really is. The author is US citizen given that she was born in the US, but her parents and brother are undocumented immigrants from Columbia. When the author was 14 her parents were deported and she was left to fend for herself, she was lucky to be able to live with family friends. You really have to give her credit for all that she has accomplished on her own: going to college and becoming a successful actress and The author really shows you how difficult the life of an undocumented immigrants really is. The author is US citizen given that she was born in the US, but her parents and brother are undocumented immigrants from Columbia. When the author was 14 her parents were deported and she was left to fend for herself, she was lucky to be able to live with family friends. You really have to give her credit for all that she has accomplished on her own: going to college and becoming a successful actress and author. I also appreciated her honesty especially her difficult relationship with her mother and her own struggles with depression. I have no idea how to solve the immigration crisis, but this book certainly makes you understand the struggles of these people.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mariam

    This book was amazing. I'm so proud of Diane for sharing her amazing story, which is never something easy to do. I'm appalled and disgusted with how the government handled her parents deportation and the fact that the U.S. government did nothing to ensure that she was okay and taken care of. However, despite the challenges Diane has faced, she has turned her story into a positive one and is using it to help others. This book and Diane are incredible! I learned so much about a topic I knew very l This book was amazing. I'm so proud of Diane for sharing her amazing story, which is never something easy to do. I'm appalled and disgusted with how the government handled her parents deportation and the fact that the U.S. government did nothing to ensure that she was okay and taken care of. However, despite the challenges Diane has faced, she has turned her story into a positive one and is using it to help others. This book and Diane are incredible! I learned so much about a topic I knew very little about and I especially loved how informative it was at the end about how to get involved and what you could do if you or your parents are living in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. Absolutely love this story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Very timely memoir about the OITNB actress's youth as an American child of undocumented immigrants, leading up to and following her parents' deportation when she was 14 years old. Guerrero wasn't put into a detention center for children -- in fact, she wasn't followed up after at all. The writing is aimed at middle school, but the discussion of her young adulthood seems more for an older teen audience. As an adult, I think I'd enjoy the original memoir she wrote that this was adapted from (but y Very timely memoir about the OITNB actress's youth as an American child of undocumented immigrants, leading up to and following her parents' deportation when she was 14 years old. Guerrero wasn't put into a detention center for children -- in fact, she wasn't followed up after at all. The writing is aimed at middle school, but the discussion of her young adulthood seems more for an older teen audience. As an adult, I think I'd enjoy the original memoir she wrote that this was adapted from (but you know, no time for grown-up books for Liz).

  17. 4 out of 5

    High Plains Library District

    This is a great book, just published this year, that would give so many young children hope and inspiration regardless of their particular background. Diane Guerrero is a role model for young girls who have struggled living without parents, gone through periods of depression, but found her calling and persevered. I recommend this book to middle school and high school readers and encourage teachers to use it to teach about immigration and deportation, it's a current event that is discussed often This is a great book, just published this year, that would give so many young children hope and inspiration regardless of their particular background. Diane Guerrero is a role model for young girls who have struggled living without parents, gone through periods of depression, but found her calling and persevered. I recommend this book to middle school and high school readers and encourage teachers to use it to teach about immigration and deportation, it's a current event that is discussed often in the news and children should be aware as well.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lonna Pierce

    I have been reading stories of immigrants (Refugee by Alan Gretz,) and this is a non-fictional memoir by a TV star (Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, etc.,) who relates her experience of coming home to an empty house the day both parents were deported. She was 14. While one may appreciate her struggles to survive, the writing is not particularly well-crafted, and often sophomoric in its point of view. It is, however valuable to listen to an eyewitness account of the consequences of a tra I have been reading stories of immigrants (Refugee by Alan Gretz,) and this is a non-fictional memoir by a TV star (Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, etc.,) who relates her experience of coming home to an empty house the day both parents were deported. She was 14. While one may appreciate her struggles to survive, the writing is not particularly well-crafted, and often sophomoric in its point of view. It is, however valuable to listen to an eyewitness account of the consequences of a tragic system of a broken-down ICE.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Bland

    This is a great book just published this year that would give so many young children hope and inspiration regardless of their particular background. Diane Guerrero is a role model for young girls who have struggled with living without parents, gone through periods of depression, but found her calling and persevered. I recommend this book to middle school and high school readers and encourage teachers to use it to teach about immigration and deportation, it's a current event that is discussed oft This is a great book just published this year that would give so many young children hope and inspiration regardless of their particular background. Diane Guerrero is a role model for young girls who have struggled with living without parents, gone through periods of depression, but found her calling and persevered. I recommend this book to middle school and high school readers and encourage teachers to use it to teach about immigration and deportation, it's a current event that is discussed often in the news and children should be aware as well.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I remember when the adult version of this book came out. Recently, I saw this middle grade version at a bookstore and figured I'd read it for my students. I can't wait to put it on my shelf at school. Guerrero's language is perfect for young teens, and while her story will resonate most with kids who've been traumatized in the immigration wars, it's appropriate for all teens.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stasi

    This was one of the most engaging memoirs I've ever read. Diane's story is heart-wrenching. Her writing style definitely sounds like a teenage girl, but hey, that's the audience. It mostly didn't bother me. Our mom-kid book club is reading it and I'm sure the kids will learn a lot (so will the moms!). They might even been spurred into action.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Luppino

    An important story. One that doesn't get told often. What it's like to have undocumented family and dealing with deportation and the aftermath. I probably should have read the adult version, as this was cliche ya at times, but I'm glad there are both versions out there so people know they are not alone.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Coralie

    Amazing and necessary story, but with quite a few triggers for vulnerable youth (making me think that the target age should be higher than it is). Triggers: abandonment, depression, attempted suicide and self-harm.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Bays

    Loved this! I flew through it. Heartbreaking but necessary.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kasey Harper

    I thought the story was good, but the last chapter was unnecessary. Without going into a political discussion, the last chapter was very out of place with the rest of the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    detailed account of an important story that needs to be shared. Great resources in the back! For older students, not elementary.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    A timely read about the struggles of an immigrant family separated by deportation and the American daughter that gets left behind.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Taija Bell

    It was boring but had a good message about what Trump is doing now in America

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Larsen

    This first hand account of the immigration experience would be a good read for any middle schooler.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mompop

    maybe 3.5 (I really like the family photos).

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