Monday, August 31, 2015

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From A Homeless Shelter To The Ivy Leage, by Dan-el Padilla Peralta

 Truth in crabbiness: The Author of this book, Dan-El Padilla Peralta, married my cousin Missy a few months ago. My son Mikey was their ring-bearer, and my daughter Jessica was a junior bridesmaid. To my detriment, I refuse to lie about whether or not I like a book, so my plan was to just keep my mouth shut if I read UNDOCUMENTED and didn't enjoy it. I'm pleased to say that I loved the book, so now you get to suffer through reading my thoughts on it.

 Born in the Dominican Republic, Dan-el traveled to New York as a young boy, accompanied by his father and pregnant mother. After the birth of his brother Yando, his parent's visas expired, and the family struggled to eke out a living. Unable to find steady work, Dan-el's father returned to the Dominican Republic, and it's here where we encounter the true beating heart of this extraordinary story. While ostensibly the story of a young boy's defiance of the odds, UNDOCUMENTED: A DOMINICAN BOY'S ODYSSEY FROM A HOMELESS SHELTER TO THE IVY LEAGUE is really an undercover love story...The love of a brilliant young man for his new home, and, the beautiful, selfless love of a mother who was willing to endure and persevere through seemingly impossible odds in order to give her children a shot at the American dream.

 While Dan-el's journey from The Bronx to Princeton and Oxford is inspirational, it's also filled with humor, tenderness, and respect for the people who helped him along the way. It's amazing to look at his life and see the paths that he has traveled along the way. Whatever side of the great immigration debate you happen to fall on, this is a book that you absolutely owe it to yourself to read. It might not change your mind, but it will probably open your eyes to the limitless possibilities that lie inside all of us. Highly recommended.