Excerpt from We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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We Are Not from Here

by Jenny Torres Sanchez

We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez X
We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
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  • First Published:
    May 2020, 368 pages
    May 2021, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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"She said something bad was going to happen. To us, Pulga. Something bad is going to happen to us."

I don't say anything and try to stay calm.

"Holy shit," Chico whispers, making my heart beat faster. I look out the window, expecting to see Rey standing there with a gun pointed right at us.

There is no one there.

When I turn back to Chico, he is looking at me strangely. "You believe her ... don't you?"

I think of the book I keep under my mattress—information I've collected over the last few years on how to get to the States. Notes. Printouts. The train. La Bestia. I think of how my tía in the United States sends money for me every year and Mamá only gives me five or ten dollars before saving the rest for me in a hiding place. I think of how I know that hiding place. How I know that tía's phone number and address. Have memorized both. How I know where to exchange dollars to quetzales and pesos and have already done so with those bills Mamá has given me each time.

Just in case.

But I don't like the terrified look on Chico's face. The one that confirms what we are both afraid to believe.

I shake my head. My heart is racing and it feels hard to breathe, but I tell myself it's just the heat.

"You know what? This baby has Pequeña all messed up," I tell Chico. "That's all. She's not herself. All we have to do is act normal." The lies spill from my mouth. But they taste better than the truth.

He closes his eyes and tears stream down his face.

"Even if Rey thinks we saw something," I continue, "or know something, he'll keep an eye on us. And when he sees we're acting normal, that we haven't told anyone anything, he'll leave us alone."

Chico opens his eyes. They're red and watery and unconvinced. He wipes at them roughly, but tears keep streaming down his face. I sit down next to him on his mattress, put my arm over his shoulders.

"It'll be okay, Chico. I promise."

"But, Pulga ..."

"It's all going to be okay ..."

He stares at me for a moment, and I will myself to believe it so he will, too. Maybe I can believe it. Maybe if I believe it, it will be true.

"Come on, you trust me, don't you? I promise you it'll be okay."

After a while he says, "Okay." Guilt washes over me, but I push it away. "If you say so, Pulga, okay."

"All we have to do is act normal, okay?"

He nods again. "Okay."

"We saw nothing, Chico. Just remember that. We went there, we grabbed a soda, and we headed back home. By the time what happened happened, we were far away from there. We were never there, Chico. We saw nothing."

He takes a deep breath. "We saw nothing."

"That's right," I tell him. "We saw nothing." I grab hold of these words so they will force out thoughts of running. Maybe I can put my faith into these words instead. Maybe I can will these words to save us.

The fan whirs and catches our words.

We saw nothing.

We saw nothing.

We saw nothing.

Those words circle around us the day after Don Felicio's funeral. And the day after that. And the day after that. For over a week Chico and I go on as normal. We head to school even though all I do is watch the door, waiting, barely able to tell one day apart from another.

We saw nothing.

We take no detours. We look over our shoulders every five minutes.

We saw nothing.

We repeat those words in our heads so much that we hear them in the thud of our steps on the way home from school. We hear them as we walk past Don Felicio's store—which doesn't even exist anymore, all boarded up the way it is.

We saw nothing.

We repeat them so much that we almost believe them. And we start to think maybe, maybe we've escaped. Maybe we'll be okay. But then one morning we're headed to school. And my breath catches.

I see that car.

Excerpted from We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez. Copyright © 2020 by Jenny Torres Sanchez. Copyright © 2020 by Jenny Torres Sanchez. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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