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Sanctuary – Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher

RATING: ★★★★★
TITLE: Sanctuary
AUTHOR: Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2020
PUBLISHER: Putnam Books, Penguin Teen
GENRE(S): YA, Dystopian, Speculative Fiction

My Sanctuary IG Post

Thank you to the incredible authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher, as well as Penguin Teen, Putnam Books, and NetGalley for my advanced copy if this book in exchange for my honest review.


Co-founder of the Women’s March makes her YA debut in a near future dystopian where a young girl and her brother must escape a xenophobic government to find sanctuary.

It’s 2032, and in this near-future America, all citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked–from buses to grocery stores. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Vali is doing. She and her family have carved out a stable, happy life in small-town Vermont, but when Vali’s mother’s counterfeit chip starts malfunctioning and the Deportation Forces raid their town, they are forced to flee. 

Now on the run, Vali and her family are desperately trying to make it to her tía Luna’s in California, a sanctuary state that is currently being walled off from the rest of the country. But when Vali’s mother is detained before their journey even really begins, Vali must carry on with her younger brother across the country to make it to safety before it’s too late. 

Gripping and urgent, co-authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher have crafted a narrative that is as haunting as it is hopeful in envisioning a future where everyone can find sanctuary.

This was one of the most incredible books I have read all year. It was raw and heartbreaking and so so relevant. Told from the not so unrealistic alternate future (year 2032), the United States is a terrifying place to live if you are not born there. The president is fighting for his ideas of the war against undocumented immigrants, creating a horrific regime that is purely inhuman. Everyone is chipped and scanning checkpoints are everywhere. The DF (Deportation Force) swarms the streets pulling people away from their homes and their families.

Vali lives with her mother and little brother in Vermont. While her brother, Ernie was born in the US, Vali and their mother and father sought a better life in America from Colombia, spending a small fortune on bootleg chips to mask their non citizenship. But after their father was detained in a camp, it was just the three of them. But, with more and more DF agents ransacking homes and businesses, the three of them must escape in the night. But, their mother’s chip is malfunctioning and she is detained, herself, leaving her children with one last word: “GO.” Now, Vali and her brother must travel from Vermont to the sanctuary state of California all alone, having no idea how to get where they are going and no idea what awaits them on their harrowing journey.

This was some of the scariest and saddest words I have ever read. Vali is this insanely strong young woman who NO MATTER WHAT, fights and doesn’t stop fighting to protect herself and her brother. She never gives up and her sheer determination in this book (along with others they meet up with who are seeking the same freedoms) had me weeping.

I think this is a book that everyone should read. It should be read and heard and never forgotten. I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to have read this book. I feel like I don’t even have the words to summarize this book in order to do it justice.


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