Today’s team review is from Frank. Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/
Frank has been reading DREAMer by Emily Gallo
A couple in their sixties from Los Angeles, on their way home from a vacation in one of California’s National Park areas close to the border with Mexico, discover a young girl alone by the roadside. There is no evidence of a vehicle having left the road so why is she there? Where are her parents or other significant adults?
Kate and Laurence set out to find the answers to these questions, thereby providing the reader with an unfolding mystery that has moments of joy and sadness as the traumatised child gradually responds to the love and compassion of the couple. There are encounters with the kind of racism, born of ignorance and fear that, if the media are to be believed, is quite common in the USA. But the majority of the people that Kate approaches are sympathetic and helpful within the constraints of their own limited knowledge. Many are operating close to, or beyond, the boundaries of the law, a fact that adds an atmosphere of danger to the search.
It is Kate who is most committed to the search, a fact which, from time to time, places a strain on the relationship, not least because Laurence is an African American all too used to the atmosphere of distrust between the forces of law and order of the United States and the non-white citizens of that country. If, as they quickly suspect, the girl is an undocumented immigrant, they and she could be in trouble if agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authority (ICE) become involved.
Their attempts to evade the authorities add to the tension, as does the fact of Kate becoming trapped by a minor earthquake during one of several journeys following leads, some of which prove false.
The word DREAMer of the title is used in the USA to define “an undocumented immigrant who is protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The name comes from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) act that was introduced in 2001 but failed to pass in Congress.” (quoted from slangit.com)
I enjoyed this book, both for the entertainment provided by the unravelling of the mystery and for the insights I, an elderly English man, gained into the lives of Californian farmers and the migrants they employ – or exploit, depending upon your point of view. I must add that the issues are handled in a way that does not come across as being politically partisan, merely as compassionate towards people doing their best to make their way in the world. I congratulate Emily Gallo for having achieved that balance in this, her most recent novel.
I’m very happy to award this book 4 stars.
Kate and Lawrence drive through the desert on their way home from vacation and find a young girl sitting by the side of the road. Who is she? Where is she from and where is she going? Why is she there? When and how did she get there? What can they do to help? The girl won’t speak, but that doesn’t deter them from embarking on a journey through central and southern California to find the answers.