Name: Marcia Mickelson
Genre: YA Contemporary
Title: Where I Belong
Word Count: 83,000 words
Themes: immigration, undocumented immigrants
Milagros Vargas, a straight-A senior, has made her immigrant parents proud. When she is thrust into the media spotlight, she must decide if she is willing to be the poster child for undocumented immigrants.
first 500 words:
Girls who were born in Guatemala can never be president of the United States. This is all I think about every time I see Mr. Brody in one of his yellow button-downs. He crosses in front of me in the hall and turns into his classroom. As he enters, I see the huge U.S. map that covers his windows. I guess the oversized map he treasures is vastly more important than sunlight we might receive on that side of the building.
He never actually said the words, but it’s the message I came away with. Freshman year, he asked for volunteers to run for president to model an election. I volunteered, only to be told he wanted to make the elections realistic with only natural born citizens. I wanted to point out that it couldn’t possibly be realistic because none of us were thirty-five. I didn’t say it to him because I still wanted an A. I did get the A, but with it came an indelible memory of the one achievement I can never aspire to.
I shake the bitter thought away, along with the equally bitter memory as I head outdoors to the bus. I don’t actually want to be president, but I don’t like being told I can’t do something just because of where I’m from. Running for president is the least of my worries at the moment. Thinking about college trumps any incidental thoughts of running for high office. And before thinking about college, I have to ace tomorrow’s Chemistry test.
Charlie Wheeler comes up right behind me as I turn the corner. “Hey, Millie,” he says. He leans down, trying to meet my eye, but I keep my eye trained on the bobbing head of black curls, twenty feet ahead, that belongs to my best friend, Chloe.
Charlie walks with me toward the exit, leading to the school buses. “I’m having a pool party in two weeks on that Friday that we have early dismissal. Everyone is coming over when school lets out.”
Leave it to Charlie to not see the irony of his invitation. On early dismissal days, I have to babysit my siblings because my mother is babysitting his sister. My mom has been the Wheelers’ housekeeper since Charlie’s little sister, Caroline, was born seven years ago. She does more than clean their house and cook their meals—she’s practically raised Caroline. Charlie’s optimism and the charmed life he leads prohibit him from seeing that some of us have priorities we must put in front of pleasures. “I can’t, but thanks.” I turn to face him for a few seconds, out of politeness, and then turn my gaze back toward Chloe who steps outside.
Charlie steps into the bus line with me. He squints against the sunlight spilling into the half-open door and slides his brown bangs off his forehead. “Well, let me know if you change your mind. You can bring Chloe, if you want.” He gives me one last, hopeful smile before turning toward the path that leads to student parking.