In Someone Like Me, Julissa Arce tells of her experiences growing up as an undocumented immigrant in San Antonio. When her family first moved to America, none of them spoke fluent English, but Julissa learned quickly and eventually graduated high school in the top five percent of her class. During weekdays, she was a normal high schooler, doing homework and going to cheerleading practice, but on the weekends she and her parents would work long days at festivals, selling funnel cakes to support their family. As she got older, Julissa became ever more aware of how limited her future was—colleges rejected her because she didn’t list a social security number in her applications, and she lived in constant fear of deportation. Yet her extraordinary intellect and hard work paid off, and she eventually became first a Wall Street executive, and then the writer, speaker, and activist which she is known as today.
I’ve been wanting to read Someone Like Me for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s far too easy when hearing about the lives of undocumented immigrants to lose sight of the individual stories and personal struggles that countless Dreamers experience, and this book focuses on the humanity of those fighting for citizenship. The writing is engaging, and the story timely and powerful. Julissa Arce describes the many struggles she faced as a young undocumented girl, from her difficulty getting into college (despite her stellar grades) to the way it sometimes felt as though her family was falling apart. The experiences which she recounts are often harrowing, but it’s also a story of courage and hope. I would highly recommend Someone Like Me to readers ages 10 and up, and it’s perfect for parents and kids to discuss, or as a book group selection. And for readers who enjoy memoirs/autobiographies, be sure to check out our reviews on Find Where the Wind Goes, Farewell to Manzanar, and I am Malala.