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Sonia Rodriguez was born in the United States, but her parents are Mexican immigrants who came to California before she was born. Her father has three Social Security numbers, her mother is pregnant (again), and neither of them speaks English. Sonia's mother spends most of her time in bed, watching soap operas, and letting Sonia clean up after her brothers. Sonia's father works dutifully to support his family, but he knows that his daughter's dreams are bigger than making tamales for family get-togethers. When Sonia attempts to put school work before her familia, her mother decides that it's time for Sonia to visit her grandmother in Mexico to learn "the ways of the old world." While in Mexico, Sonia gets to know her wise grandmother and her cousin Maria, who teach her that while familia is important, the most important thing is to follow your heart. Sonia returns to the States determined to succeed in school, but the birth of her new twin siblings, inappropriate advances from her drunk uncle (Drunkle), and a forbidden relationship with an El Salvadorian boy push school to the back burner. If only Sonia can find the time to cook dinner, secretly meet with her boyfriend, avoid her Drunkle, AND finish her homework, she just might be able to graduate from high school. . . .
Alan Lawrence Sitomer is California's 2007 Teacher of the Year. In addition to being an inner-city high school English teacher and professor in the Graduate School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, Mr. Sitomer is a nationally renowned speaker specializing in engaging reluctant readers, who received the 2004 award for Classroom Excellence from the Southern California Teachers of English and the 2003 Teacher of the Year honor from California Literacy. His young adult trilogy of novels began with The Hoopster and Hip-Hop High School and concluded with Homeboyz. Alan is also the author of Hip-Hop Poetry and The Classics, a text used in classrooms across the United States to engage disengaged students.