• Mel Leslie

The Undocumented Americans


How do you put into words a book that so profoundly changed the way you view the country you have been born and raised in? How do you articulate the lives of people who are the backbone of our nation, yet have to hide in the shadows and endure being treated as lesser human beings? Karla Cornejo Villavicencio gives a voice to those whose stories are never shared. This book was not written with the sole focus of educating someone like me, but was written to share the voices of those who remain unheard.


The Undocumented Americans is a profound novel that unearths the lives of thousands of undocumented individuals living throughout the United States. Karla writes about the lives of day laborers in Staton Island, the undocumented workers who cleaned up the 9/11 site, botanicas in Miami that provide natural remedies to citizens with zero access to healthcare, Flint, MI residents who were never warned how harmful their tap water is and are now suffering from long term health conditions, individuals evading ICE in the confined windowless rooms of churches, and elderly immigrants in New Haven that have gave blood, sweat, and tears to a country that won't even give them the decency to age with grace.


Villavicencio's writing is raw, visceral, and holds no bars. Her researched blurred the line as she became invested in the lives of those she met and spoke with. Her mental health was affected as she took on the grief and hardship of the people she connected with. To say this is a modern day masterpiece is no joke. I have never read a book like this. Almost every sentence impacts you and makes you reflect and think of the hidden lives around you that shoulder your neighbor, city, and country.

We read The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio for the August My Night's Book Clubbed. It felt as though the conversation could have went on for hours. There is no shortage of discussion generators and I provided questions below that got our conversation going. I highly recommend you consider this book for your next book club as talking about it only fires you up more to get involved and make some changes. I am a huge fan of tangible suggestions for combating social injustice and when it came to this book, I finished it with a fire in my soul that will never be extinguished. I highly recommend you check out the hashtag #readtheundocumentedamericans on IG and read own voices reviews, as well as check out Karla's IG page. She currently has a Go Fund Me link for a family she met while writing her book who is now severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Educate. Donate. Be a part of the change.


Book Club Discussion Questions for The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio


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