Themes

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Last Updated on October 4, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 347

Diane Guerrero’s memoir focuses on her life with her family in the United States. While Guerrero is a US citizen and was born and raised in the country, her parents came from Colombia. They remained undocumented until they were finally apprehended and deported. Guerrero recounts the painful years of separation,...

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Diane Guerrero’s memoir focuses on her life with her family in the United States. While Guerrero is a US citizen and was born and raised in the country, her parents came from Colombia. They remained undocumented until they were finally apprehended and deported. Guerrero recounts the painful years of separation, during which she finished school in the United States while her parents lived in Colombia.

The Centrality of Family

One of the greatest challenges the Guerreros faced was being torn apart. Guerrero came to understand the sacrifices her parents had made so that she could benefit from living in the United States. Her parents kept many secrets, she realized later, because they wanted to protect their children from worry. Nevertheless, Guerrero was painfully aware that her parents and older brother might be taken at any moment and that, if they were deported, they might never see each other again. As each family member had to handle their own case separately, their deportations were carried out individually.

Patriotism

As indicated by the title, a strong love of country was an important motivator for the Guerrero family. With one foot in each country, their patriotic impulses also pulled them in two directions. Guerrero speculates about the ways in which a person can care for two countries in different ways. Her ambivalence toward the US legal system, with its absolute power to control lives, is balanced by her fervent admiration for many aspects of US life.

Overcoming Adversity

Guerrero was a teenager when both her parents were sent away; as a result, she experienced intense emotional upheaval. From a loving (although sometimes conflict-ridden) home, she had to accustom herself to a variety of living arrangements and still try to focus on her studies and career plans. Proud to have won admission to the prestigious Brooklyn Arts Academy, Guerrero was highly apprehensive about her ability to continue. Intense fear of the authorities pervaded her daily life, sometimes even making her reluctant to seek medical treatment. Guerrero attributes much of her strength to her Catholic faith, which increasingly sustained her as her troubles mounted.

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