Weekend Pick for June 9, 2023
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Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher
Sanctuary is disturbing in its proximity. Set in 2032, Mendoza and Sher’s dystopian nightmare feels far too close to the immigrant experience in America, with the main characters remaining ever vigilant to avoid the nefarious Deportation Force and the separation of families. Immigration status is tracked with microchips slipped beneath wrists and California has succeeded from the union, designating itself as a sanctuary state. Apart from the drones that spot, track, and physically remove immigrants without American citizenship and the landmines that pepper the borderland between Mexico and America’s “Great Wall”, there are few aspects of the novel that do not mirror life in 2023 America, a mere nine years prior to the novel’s setting. Sanctuary provides commentary on the immigrant experience and asks readers to consider a future that isn’t far removed from our current reality.
Mendoza and Sher have created a terrifying and all too possible world that is rooted in the realities of contemporary America, but rather than allow Vali and Ernie to fall victim to injustice, Mendoza and Sher infuse hope throughout the plot. Vali and Ernie’s journey highlights the power of community, love, and resistance, making the novel an excellent pick for readers who love dystopian narratives but don’t want to leave the text feeling disparaged about the future.