- Tell Us We're Home
Even though Jaya, Maria, and Lola hail from different parts of the world and have wildly different values, they form a bond of understanding as poor daughters of immigrant mothers who cook, clean, and babysit for the wealthy families in their New Jersey suburb. Jaya has fond memories of spending time with her artist father in Trinidad before he died, Maria is surrounded—and sometimes suffocated—by her extended Mexican family, and Lola, from Slovakia, is completely frustrated with her father's inability to leave the couch and find work in this country whose founding ideals of freedom and rebellion stir her passionate imagination. The girls are lonely until they find one another, but when Jaya's mother is falsely accused of stealing from an employer, their different approaches to the problem expose their disparate values and threaten their friendship. Each girl's story unfolds gradually in chapters that follow the trio's times together as well as their times apart; this alternating focus maintains a steady pace and delivers a rounded portrayal of the girls, their families, and their everyday realities. It also enables readers to consider diverse perspectives and experiences of people who practice a kind of deliberate invisibility in many neighborhoods, but whose presence is crucial to the functioning of numerous households. The various problems that the girls face, including anti-immigrant sentiment, parental depression, the impact of the recession on household workers, and the superficial, self-serving activism of some of their supposedly sympathetic peers, are balanced by the presence of people who really do value the girls as people as well as appreciate the work their parents do, making this a substantive, timely read about the current state of immigrants in the US.