EFREN DIVIDED BY ERNESTO CISNEROS
Ernesto Cisneros’ debut novel, Efren Divided, is a must have for all middle level classroom libraries. This powerful and moving, but often humorous story of undocumented immigrants in California sheds important light on the hardships faced by individuals striving to provide a better life for their children. Through the eyes of Efren Nava, the oldest son, Cisneros paints a vivid picture of Efren’s life in middle school with his best friend, David, and in the poor working-class neighborhood.
As the oldest son of the Navas, undocumented Mexican immigrants, Efren accepts and understands why his parents need to work as hard as they do to provide for himself and his twin siblings, Max, and Mia. He knows they do not have the resources to provide a great deal, but he is never hungry, and his mother’s love and affection is never in question.
It is against this backdrop that Efren must find the strength and resiliency to grow up much faster than either his Ama (mother) or Apa (father) wanted and when Ama fails to return home one day, the family eventually learns that she has been deported. This news sets in motion a chain of events that requires Efren to put family first, school second and embark on a dangerous journey in the hopes of reuniting his family.
Efren Divided is a heartbreakingly realistic depiction of life for many immigrant families. I shed many tears as Efren shared his story and hope that Cisneros will soon provide the next chapter in Efren’s life.