Booktalking "Efren Divided" by Ernesto Cisneros

Southwest Library

Booktalking "Efren Divided" by Ernesto Cisneros

Efren wants to be a typical boy who has his family life who has his family life at home and his friends at school. This sense of normality and well-being shatters when his Ama is deported to Mexico. The teen and Apa attempt to keep this knowledge from the twins, Max and Mia, for as long as possible, but they soon catch on to the stark reality of the horrific situation. Efren's friend, David, is campaigning to become class president. Efren, meanwhile, can barely manage to help take care of the twins and do his schoolwork in the midst of his inner turmoil. 


Apa is exhausted working two jobs to support his family in the United States and send money to Ama in Mexico for her room. He also wants to send money to finance her transport back to the US, but her lack of valid identification serves as an impediment to his plan. It is difficult to locate Ama and crossing the border is a treacherous operation for an undocumented immigrant who wishes to return to America. The last thing Apa wants to happen is to get snatched up by ICE, thereby being forced to leave his three progeny with his cousin. 

David is a white boy in a minority school who is vying for class president. His peers mock his light skin. He toils and works very hard on slogans and his campaign posters in order to do right by the students in the school. He is in the dark about what Efren is going through, and suffers his own challenges in trying to make his voice heard. 

Max and Mia play and have fun, like preschoolers do. But undergirding their joy is the sneaking suspicion that all is not right with the family and that Ama may not return. They miss her dearly and simply want to spend time with her. Meanwhile, they get as many cuddles and playtime with Efren and Apa as possible.  

Everyone is trying to cope with America in a time of immigration crisis and racial strife.  

Time simply marches on, hopefully bringing about a better outcome in the future... perhaps not so distant.  

Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros, 2020


This Pura Belpre award-winning novel is a fantastic exploration of the devastation of what 21st century kids of migrant parents face in our nation. 


Blog by Miranda J. McDermott