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Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
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Penguin Publishing Group 2015
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Description
An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class
Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons.
Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. There he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country.
There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated these two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he could immerse himself in a world of books and where he soon rose to the top of his class.
From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement.
Undocumented is a classic story of the triumph of the human spirit. It also is the perfect cri de coeur for the debate on comprehensive immigration reform.
Praise for Undocumented
“Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s story is as compulsively readable as a novel, an all-American tall tale that just happens to be true. From homeless shelter to Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford, through the grace not only of his own hard work but his mother’s discipline and care, he documents the America we should still aspire to be.” —Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation
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Street Date:
07/28/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780698195684
ASIN:
B00OZ0TMGO
Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Dan-el Padilla Peralta. (2015). Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Dan-el Padilla Peralta. 2015. Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. Penguin Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Dan-el Padilla Peralta. Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. Penguin Publishing Group, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 03, 2017 05:57:56
Date Updated:
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      • value: biographies and memoirs
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      • value: immigration reform
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      • value: deferred action for childhood arrivals
      • value: dreamers
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title
Undocumented
fullDescription
An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class
Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons.
Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. There he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country.
There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated these two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he could immerse himself in a world of books and where he soon rose to the top of his class.
From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement.
Undocumented is a classic story of the triumph of the human spirit. It also is the perfect cri de coeur for the debate on comprehensive immigration reform.
Praise for Undocumented
“Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s story is as compulsively readable as a novel, an all-American tall tale that just happens to be true. From homeless shelter to Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford, through the grace not only of his own hard work but his mother’s discipline and care, he documents the America we should still aspire to be.” —Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation
gradeLevels
      • value: Grade 4
      • value: Grade 5
      • value: Grade 6
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 8, 2015
        In this dogged journey of a Dominican boy “without papers,” Peralta, currently a Mellon research fellow at Columbia University, describes his valiant battle against the obstacles of poverty, prejudice, and government red tape. Peralta, a native of Santo Domingo, came to America at age four with his undocumented parents, but financial demands forced his father to return home, leaving Peralta and his mother to fend for themselves. He writes candidly about hard times including a period spent in a dangerous homeless shelter, breaking through the harsh immigrant clichés to a pure humanistic level that any reader can embrace. Peralta found time to study despite the lack of financial stability; in time, he attended an elite Manhattan private school, then earned a degree from Princeton University. Understanding the “contradictions of his life,” he describes himself: “illegal alien, hoodrat, Dominican, classicist,” but states no one label could accurately fit him. Part memoir, part confessional, and part coming-of-age tale, Peralta’s story holds several truths on the road through loss, sacrifice, and achievement to gaining his slice of the American dream.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        May 1, 2015
        This story of the personal struggle of an undocumented alien underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Being without papeles all his life growing up in New York City led Peralta to hide his impoverished Dominican roots-until Ivy League sponsors and even President Bill Clinton helped get him permission to travel abroad to Oxford and eventually change his immigrant status to allow him to attend graduate school at Stanford. For any other undocumented person, deportation loomed, while leaving the country meant being barred from re-entry, a fact the author is cognizant of as he embraces his great opportunity in America. Peralta's parents first brought him to America when he was 4, in 1989. Though they had solid office jobs in Santo Domingo, the parents sought better health care and schools but soon came up against the enormous cost of living in New York, where some of the family's aunts and uncles already lived. Peralta's father moved back, but his mother stayed, fiercely keeping the family going even when they had to live in a homeless shelter for a year. Still, the author was an avid reader, and he excelled in the New York public schools, catching the attention of an art teacher who became the boy's "big brother" and helped navigate Peralta's admission to an elite Upper West Side private school, Collegiate, where he mixed with mostly rich white kids and never let on to his true undocumented status. At this point in the narrative, the author slips into a street slang that he assumed with irony-a way of "fronting" to show how tough he had to be straddling two different worlds. Yet it's jarring, as he keeps it up through the narrative of his college years at Princeton and beyond. The author eventually became a scholar of classics, and the "whispering ghost of race/survivor guilt" still haunts. Occasionally uneven, but an impassioned and honest memoir from an author determined to prove himself worthy.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 15, 2015
        Seeking medical care for a complicated pregnancy, Peralta's mother and father brought him with them to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. Born in the U.S., his younger brother automatically had the documentation that Peralta and his mother lacked. When his father returned to the DR, Peralta and his mother struggled with poverty complicated by their status, finally settling in low-income housing in Harlem. A volunteer at the shelter library recognized Peralta's intelligence and helped him get a scholarship to Collegiate, the nation's oldest private school. Peralta spent his youth projecting two very different sides of himself, the tough exterior he showed to the neighborhood gang-bangers and the hunger for knowledge he displayed at school. Between a very protective mother and his own ambition, he succeeded despite the lack of documentation that limits his ability to work, to travel, and to get financial aid. At Princeton and at the top of his class, he revealed his undocumented status in a profile in the Wall Street Journal. Peralta offers an inspiring personal story of the hardships faced by undocumented families.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2015

        This memoir follows Peralta from the time his mother brought him to the United States from the Dominican Republic as little more than a toddler, through his graduations from Princeton and Oxford Universities. Peralta (Columbia Univ. Humanities Fellow; Divine Institutions) tells his story in order to bring more attention to how the United States treats hardworking, intelligent, undocumented young people. To prove his point, he portrays himself as almost squeaky clean; along with modest, bookish, and willing to follow the rules. What drama there is here comes not from any inner struggle in Peralta but from his mother's difficulties to support her two children. The memoir gains momentum when the author is old enough to feel the consequences of being an undocumented American, as a college student often reminded of his outsider status. VERDICT Peralta's simple and unadorned yet fast-moving narrative provides an insightful read for anyone passionate about immigration reform; recommended for fans of Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly's Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/15.]--Jessica Spears, Monroe Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2015

        At age four, Padilla Peralta came to the United States legally with his family, but though his father returned home when their visas expired, his mother stayed on to secure better opportunities for her sons. The family ended up in a homeless shelter, where a volunteer noted Padilla Peralta's love of learning and arranged for him to attend Manhattan's prestigious Collegiate School. From there he went on to Princeton, graduating summa cum laude and giving the salutatorian's traditional commencement address in Latin. A few months previously, he bravely opted to out himself as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile. An important resource as the immigration reform debate heats up.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription
An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class
Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons.
Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. There he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the...
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A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
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Penguin Publishing Group