US IN PROGRESS – Short Stories About Young Latinos- by Lulu Delacre

US, in Progress, is pure heaven. I read the title as us, like the word, but my mom read it as US, like the abbreviation for the United States. I like that because both work as the title. It’s really fun. There are 12 independent stories in this book. Each has their own title and drawing that has a special meaning. 

The first story is called, The Attack, and is about a young Mexican boy named Emilio. His older brother, Tony, has epilepsy and there ends up being a problem. Emilio and José, his twin brother, try to help but it ends up worse. This story was thought-provoking and it was quite a start to this book.

*This one has spoilers 

The second story is named Selfie and the beautiful drawing is of a girl with a sugar skull painted on half of her face. That picture alone intrigued me. The girl, Marla, has a diabetic mother and she started having signs of type 2 diabetes. At school, she learns about bike programs and works to get her own bike. She then rides in the 9 mile Dia de Los Muertos ride and starts to feel better. In my opinion, it was a nice story because it had a happy ending.

*This one has spoilers 

The next story is by far my favorite one. Its name is Güera. It’s so fun! It centers around a Latina girl with pale skin and blond hair. Boy can I get that! Her giant family calls her Güera instead of her birth name, Vicky. When she gets on the subway, a guy gets up behind her. He and another man start to speak in Spanish and it starts to get negative. Luckily, our powerful Latina speaks Spanish and understands what they are saying. She does the unthinkable, she gives a snappy one liner. This story is amazing and perfect in every way.

Burrito Man is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story. A teenager, Alex, goes with her Salvadorian (only one in the whole book) dad to his job as a burrito man at his truck. She then sees how much he cares for her and knows his community when he talks to each person by name as they put money into his tip jar which has a handwritten sign that says Alex´s College Fund. I won’t finish this summary because if I do, it will make you sad.

You have to rip off band aids, especially when you read the story Band Aid. It’s such a sad story with a tear jerking ending. It all starts when Alina´s father gets deported back to Honduras. She then becomes like a mother to her siblings, all while ghosting her best friend. This story really makes you long for your parents to wrap you up in a fuzzy blanket and shove warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies in your face.

As a firstborn child, I make fun of my brothers a ton, but I would never bully them. Firstborn is about a middle child from Puerto Rico trying to live with her bully of an older sister. Her older sister is verbally tormenting her younger sisters. Eventually, the younger sisters snap. This short story makes me really think about how I treat my younger siblings and it’s definitely an eye opening read.

Cubano Two is about the two new hosts of  the morning news show. Both of them are 8th graders and Cubanos, which you could get from the title. They spend most of the chapter talking back and forth with their spicy vocabulary. It’s a very short chapter and not my favorite one. It’s still good though.

This next short story is called Peacemaker. It is about a young boy and his fighting parents. It’s a very suspenseful story that has a happy ending that makes me question how long the peace will last. I empathize a bit with the main character because I also calm down people after fights, when I can at least. But, I can’t really understand the pain that this guy has to go through.

Following the last story, The Secret, is another happy ending. A teenage girl finds out she’s illegal and starts to isolate herself from her younger sister, the main character. The younger sister reads Esperanza´s, the older sister´s, diary and tries to find a way to help. This story is nice because Esperanza means hope and that’s what this story oozes. Hope.

Pickup Soccer is a story you have to read a bit slower because of all the peoples names! You just read name after name and so it’s a bit of a slower read. It’s also in more of a poem format so it’s fun to read aloud! It’s about a VERY energetic guy and a pickup soccer game, which are very common.

*This one has spoilers 

This next story is named Saturday School. It centers around an unofficial Spanish speaker who goes to summer school to clean up?, her Spanish. It’s funny though because she learns Argentinian Spanish and I always have to explain to my friends that there are different types of Spanish. But, there is a very nice ending with a book club!

The last story!!!!!!! It’s called 90,000 children and there’s this guy, Frank, who hates immigrants, or as he calls them, aliens. It starts out weird because Frank hates immigrants but ends nicely. 

This book is amazing in every way. I love it so much and wish I owned it!! I can’t wait for more people to read it because it has so much knowledge and emotions  and experiences in it that there is plenty to spare!

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