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Reading: BORDERLESS by Jennifer De Leon in conversation with Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Join Word Up for a reading of Borderless (out 4/25/23) by Jennifer De Leon who will be in conversation with Charles Rice-Gonzalez, author and executive director of BAAD! Caught in the crosshairs of gang violence, a teen girl and her mother set off on a perilous journey from Guatemala City to the US border in this heart-wrenching young adult novel from the author of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From.

“The book illustrates the violent consequences of structural poverty, as readers are introduced to characters trying to do the best they can with what they’ve been handed. Their desperation is communicated vividly as well as their determination to keep their loved ones safe… An engrossing exploration of youths and gang violence.” — Kirkus Reviews

This event is a $5 suggested donation ticket with 50 max attendees. Please register in advance.


Caught in the crosshairs of gang violence, a teen girl and her mother set off on a perilous journey from Guatemala City to the US border in this heart-wrenching young adult novel from the author of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From.

For seventeen-year-old Maya, trashion is her passion, and her talent for making clothing out of unusual objects landed her a scholarship to Guatemala City’s most prestigious art school and a finalist spot in the school’s fashion show. Mamá is her biggest supporter, taking on extra jobs to pay for what the scholarship doesn’t cover, and she might be even more excited than Maya about what the fashion show could do for her future career.

So when Mamá doesn’t come to the show, Maya doesn’t know what to think. But the truth is worse than she could have imagined. The gang threats in their neighborhood have walked in their front door—with a boy Maya considered a friend, or maybe more, among them. After barely making their escape, Maya and her mom have no choice but to continue their desperate flight all the way through Guatemala and Mexico in hopes of crossing the US border.

They have to cross. They must cross! Can they?


Jennifer De Leon is the author of the YA novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (published by Simon & Schuster) and White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, and Writing (winner of the Juniper Prize and published by the University of Massachusetts Press), and the editor of the award-winning anthology, Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (published by the University of Nebraska Press). She is currently the Visiting Writer in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at UMass Boston and the founder of Story Bridge, a series of programs and workshops that bridge storytelling and DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging). Her new YA novel, Borderless, releases from Simon & Schuster in April 2023. Visit her at www.jenniferdeleonauthor.com 

Charles Rice-Gonzalez is an LGBTQ activist, co-founder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and an Assistant Professor at Hostos Community College. His novel, Chulito, received recognition from the ALA and the National Book Critics Circle, and his short stories, essays and plays appear in over a dozen publications. He’s a fellow of MacDowell, Lannan Foundation, and PEN America/Writing as Activism. He received a B.A. in Communications from Adelphi University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College.


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The event is finished.


May 17 2023


7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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Word Up Community Bookshop / Librería Comunitaria


Word Up Community Bookshop / Librería Comunitaria
(347) 688-4456

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