--- EXCERPT ---
** book review will be up soon! **
“I could start working,” I say. “I’ll give up cheer and get a job.” If they can work with fake papers, so can I.
“No, Jasmine,” Dad says. “You have to focus on school.”
But why? I think. Why focus on school if we can’t afford to send me to college anyway? Not without a scholarship, and I can’t get one if I’m not a citizen or a legal resident.
“Absolutely not,” Mom says. She reaches across the table and grabs my hands. “You need to keep your focus on school. There must be scholarships or grants other than government ones. Maybe we can take out a private loan or something.”
But how, I want to say. She’s in denial, I think.
“We’ll figure it out. You deserve to go,” she tells me.
“And you deserve better than cleaning up other people’s messes, Mom,” I say. “You could get a different kind of job.”
Dad scoffs. “That’s not going to happen without citizenship. Or at least another set of fake papers.”
“I’m tired of lying,” Mom says. “We need to do things the right way.”
Mom tells us that she’s found several lawyers who help undocumented people, but they’re all shady. “It’s a scam. They want too much money. Isn’t there an alliance out there of lawyers who want to help people like us who are already here and have been for years?”
“Better to leave it alone,” Dad says. “Fly under the radar. These issues are debated on the news every day. Politicians never solve the problems. They just talk. Worrying about it isn’t going to fix anything.”
“What if your boss finds out you’re illegal?” Mom asks. “How do you know my supervisor won’t call your boss? How do you know they won’t send someone to the house? Is that how you want to live? Just waiting for the hammer to fall?”
“There’s no hammer,” Dad says. “We just got unlucky. Thousands of undocumented workers live in Los Angeles. What are they going to do? Deport all of us? Take a month off. You need the break.”
“No,” Mom says. “We need the money. I’ll get another job. I’ve done it before. I can do it again. It just might take time to find the right one.”
Despite our arguments, I love how my mother can be so tough. She may have a little breakdown, but then she’s back up on her feet, fighting for herself again.
I’m a fighter too.
I run to my room and pull the award letter out of my jewelry box. There’s a contact email at the top. Suzanne Roberts. Liaison for the United States Department of Education.
I immediately type out a message on my phone apologizing for being so late and wondering if I can still attend the dinner. Can they schedule a last-minute flight for me? Am I too late? Did I miss the greatest opportunity I’ve had in my whole life?