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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Other Side

The Other Side

Stories of Central American Teen Refugees Who Dream of Crossing the Border

Juan Pablo Villalobos

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)


Award-winning Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos explores illegal immigration with this emotionally raw and timely nonfiction book about ten Central American teens and their journeys to the United States.

You can't really tell what time it is when you're in the freezer.

Every year, thousands of migrant children and teens cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The journey is treacherous and sometimes deadly, but worth the risk for migrants who are escaping gang violence and poverty in their home countries. And for those refugees who do succeed? They face an immigration process that is as winding and multi-tiered as the journey that brought them here.

In this book, award-winning Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos strings together the diverse experiences of eleven real migrant teenagers, offering readers a beginning road map to issues facing the region. These timely accounts of courage, sacrifice, and survival—including two fourteen-year-old girls forming a tenuous friendship as they wait in a frigid holding cell, a boy in Chicago beginning to craft his future while piecing together his past in El Salvador, and cousins learning to lift each other up through angry waters—offer a rare and invaluable window into the U.S.–Central American refugee crisis.

In turns optimistic and heartbreaking, The Other Side balances the boundless hope at the center of immigration with the weight of its risks and repercussions. Here is a necessary read for young people on both sides of the issue.

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, Kirkus Prize Finalists



When the immigration officer called me up, he said:

“Do you have kids?”

“Yes,” I told him, “I have two.”

This was toward the end of February...

Praise for The Other Side

*2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers Literature Finalist!*
*A Kirkus Best Book of the Year!*
*An NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book Pick!*
*AN ILA Notable Book for a Global Society!*

"A critical compilation of stories from unaccompanied Central American teen refugees who make tremendous sacrifices to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. This essential volume is deserving of more than one read." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Villalobos amplifies the voices of the young refugees mired in the current immigration crisis in this accessibly written collection. From the fear of gang violence to the hopefulness of family reunions, the stories, some of which are interconnected, demonstrate the complexity and unevenness of the current immigration and asylum policy. Stories of young refugees have been dominating the news, and Villalobos' approachable collection provides readers with varied, nuanced insight into the issues." —Booklist


Reviews from Goodreads

Juan Pablo Villalobos

Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. He has written literary criticism, film criticism, and short stories. Villalobos has penned multiple books, including Down the Rabbit Hole, which has been translated into fifteen languages and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and Quesadillas. He lives in Barcelona, Spain, with his wife and their two sons.

image of Juan Pablo Villaloboso
© Lisbeth Salas

Read an Interview of Patrick Flores Scott

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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