Free epub Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League – Albawater.co

An undocumented immigrant s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton classDan 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 sonsWithout 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 countryThere, 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 classFrom 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


10 thoughts on “Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League

  1. Raquel Raquel says:

    I received a copy of Undocumented from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program.When I saw the listing for this book I knew immediately I had to read it I m first generation American with immigrant parents My mother is from the Dominican Republic Nothing about my upbringing paved the way for my academic career except for my own natural curiosity, love of learning and literature and drive So I was really curious to read about Dan el Padilla Peralta whose upbringing was a lotc I received a copy of Undocumented from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program.When I saw the listing for this book I knew immediately I had to read it I m first generation American with immigrant parents My mother is from the Dominican Republic Nothing about my upbringing paved the way for my academic career except for my own natural curiosity, love of learning and literature and drive So I was really curious to read about Dan el Padilla Peralta whose upbringing was a lotcomplicated and difficult than my own Reading about how Dan el made it to the Ivy League with sheer determination and some luck was really inspiring He encountered many problems related to his status as an illegal immigrant as well as his poor financial situation However this never stopped him from his dream of doing well in school, studying the classics and making it all the way to Princeton and beyond.There were many things I liked about this book It s very timely considering the recent conversation about immigration and what immigrants contribute to American society and the economy Dan el is a fine example of how living in the US provides muchopportunities for academic success I put Dan el Padilla Peralta up there with Junot Diaz as examples of the intellectual potential of Dominicans We are often relegated to being recognized solely for our baseball skills.I would have given the book 5 stars except for a couple of things I couldn t connect with the author He was born with a talent for academics and he had a lot of help along the way from good friends and mentors I didn t have any natural talent or help whatsoever This is not the author s fault but just my personal reaction This is not to say the author s journey was easy He had to work very hard to get to where he was and his story is very admirable because of that The cover is a poor choice and the book is a first person memoir yet they chose a third person subtitle for the book Penguin, the publisher, should know better I also was really confused at who the intended audience was The author uses relatively simple language as well as lots of Dominican and street slang throughout the text After I finished the book I re read the letter at the beginning of the book to see if I missed some insight into the purpose of the book but it readlike a summary of his story.I did give the book four stars because it was a very enjoyable read, I loved rooting for the author as I learnedabout his journey and I think the book is incredibly important and timely People need to read about the immigrant experience and they need to see that there is potential beyond what people relegate to immigrants This book would be great for book groups who want to sit down and talk about immigration in America.I read a galley of the book so it is not the final edited text that will be published I hope the publisher will encourage the author to re write his letter to the reader that appears in the front of the book And maybe they ll change the cover when they put the book in paperback


  2. Esme Esme says:

    I came away from this book questioning if the author yet possessed the maturity and distance to fully explore the complexities of his situation It seems to me that he was raised like a veal once his intellect was discovered, and spent his boyhood and early adulthood, studying every moment of the day This was completely his story, and it never delved deeper into any kind of universality of greater immigration issues, in my opinion One of my issues was that this kid never acknowledged that whil I came away from this book questioning if the author yet possessed the maturity and distance to fully explore the complexities of his situation It seems to me that he was raised like a veal once his intellect was discovered, and spent his boyhood and early adulthood, studying every moment of the day This was completely his story, and it never delved deeper into any kind of universality of greater immigration issues, in my opinion One of my issues was that this kid never acknowledged that while he couldn t do things like junior year abroad because of his immigration status there are still millions who can t even go to college because they can t afford it Price or debt never seems to factor into any of his considerations Frankly, I found myself bored and skimming chapters as he discussed his coursework and choosing classes and so forth Yes, I ve been to college too, I know how that works There wasn t a lot of tension and injustice to stoke my outrage He has friends that go to bat for him at every turn.One element that surprised me, upon leaving the homeless shelter, his mother was allowed to browse for a low income apartment, I thought that was pretty generous of the city, I didn t know someone in that situation got to shop around Another telling little detail his friend the priest paid off his shoplifting debt and let it go without telling his mother, and he never repaid him He couldn t have used a little of that generous stipend money received Overall a bit dull and self centered And as smart as he obviously is, he came off as immature


  3. Barbara Barbara says:

    Padilla Peralta is an amazing success story Brought to NYC on a tourist visa so his mother can get medical care, he, his mother, and infant brother born here, overstay their visa putting them immediately into undocumented status His father choses not to stay in NY and returns to Santo Domingo They quickly fall into poverty and eventually end up in a homeless shelter for a time Dan el, whose story this is, is a gifted boy who loves reading about ancient Rome and Greece He wins scholarships t Padilla Peralta is an amazing success story Brought to NYC on a tourist visa so his mother can get medical care, he, his mother, and infant brother born here, overstay their visa putting them immediately into undocumented status His father choses not to stay in NY and returns to Santo Domingo They quickly fall into poverty and eventually end up in a homeless shelter for a time Dan el, whose story this is, is a gifted boy who loves reading about ancient Rome and Greece He wins scholarships to one private school and then another which is very elite He goes on to an Ivy League college majoring in Classics.I really enjoyed the Dominicanismos phrases and words in the book, most of which aren t translated Dan El never forgets he s Dominican, but above all he feels he s a New Yorker His story provides insights into the many obstacles undocumented youth face They can t legally work or even travel out of state without ID They are not eligible for any federal aid including work study when they go to college And there are very very few ways to regularize your status if you are out of status as Dan El was.Something to to keep in mind was Dan El s parents were educated, middle class professionals If they hadn t been, they wouldn t have gotten visas to the US His mother pushed to get her sons excellent educations, and they excelled His parents provided him with one step up that set him on his way.The audiobook is effectively read by the author I recommend this book for anyone interested in the situation of undocumented students


  4. Bri (readingknitter.com) Bri (readingknitter.com) says:

    For , check out is a fantastic memoir that depicts one person s journey as an undocumented person living in America When Dan El Padilla Peralta is a young child, he moved to New York from the Dominican Republic with his family His family didn t acquire US citizen documentation and soon their travel papers expired and he and his mother were eventually living in America illegally Dan El beautifully articulates the struggles that he encount For , check out is a fantastic memoir that depicts one person s journey as an undocumented person living in America When Dan El Padilla Peralta is a young child, he moved to New York from the Dominican Republic with his family His family didn t acquire US citizen documentation and soon their travel papers expired and he and his mother were eventually living in America illegally Dan El beautifully articulates the struggles that he encounters because he doesn t have documentation his mother isn t able to legally work so they had to move into a shelter when Dan El is young and move frequently until they are able to find astable home thanks to public housing he isn t able to officially work on paper at least when he is offered a mentorship job when he s in high school he has no idea how to apply to college and if he will even be allowed to attend andstruggles that are too numerous to list and would also spoil some of his life story if I included them here.It is so, so important that stories like Padilla Peralta s are captured and made available to the public Moving to the US and overstaying your initial papers and eventually living in America illegally iscommon than a lot of people think You may even have someone in your life who is undocumented and you have no idea With Padilla Peralta s story of his life, he s able to share his experience with those who may not be aware of the realities that face being undocumented in the US, and also provide comfort to others who have lived those experiences I talked about this book with my friend who was undocumented for most of his youth and he said that it would have been incredibly reassuring to know a book like Undocumented existed because for a long time, he didn t know anyone else outside of his family who was undocumented He told me that if he had been able to read about someone who shared his experience in some way, he wouldn t have felt so isolated about his status and his situation.That said, Padilla Peralta is quick to remind readers that he doesn t have the answers for someone in similar situations to him He was able to acquire a lot of well placed connections and a valuable support system based on his specific circumstances, which may not be widely available to everyone His book isn t about teaching others specifically how to navigate their own situation, but purely serves to detail his own life experiences.After the acknowledgments section of the book, there is a glossary of Spanish terms used throughout the text Since I had an e galley of this book, I didn t notice this until I had finished reading There are hardly ever full sentences in Spanish within the book, and most of the Spanish terms are sprinkled into the text occasionally in a way that isn t distracting if you don t know Spanish Thus, a glossary wasn t necessary to me, but some could find it helpful.The only thing I would have changed about the memoir is the epilogue it felt awkward to read and seemed as if it was hastily strung together It s very vague about how many years had lapsed between the epilogue and the last chapter of the book and if there had been any development with one of the major plot lines of the book I also wish there had been a greater call to action at the end of the book Padilla Peralta speaks extensively about the DREAM Act and I felt like the epilogue could have included a request for readers to contact their local representatives about this bill or listed activism groups that they could either directly be involved with or contribute to if they desired However, if you couldn t tell from the rest of this glowing review, I definitely recommend reading this book It s well written and represents a perspective that I haven t read before If you ve read books that cover similar territory, please recommend them to me Disclaimer I was provided with an Advance Reader Copy of this book for free from the Penguin First to Read program All opinions expressed in the following review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin.


  5. Tonya Tonya says:

    Undocumented is the autobiography of Dan el Padilla Peralta beginning with his legal arrival in the United States with his family, through homelessness, prep schools, graduation from Princeton, and post graduate studies at Oxford It is the story of choices Choices of Dan el s parents to immigrate to America legally knowing that this country would offer the best future Choices to birth a child in the United States for the purpose of receiving anchor baby benefits and entering the welfare syste Undocumented is the autobiography of Dan el Padilla Peralta beginning with his legal arrival in the United States with his family, through homelessness, prep schools, graduation from Princeton, and post graduate studies at Oxford It is the story of choices Choices of Dan el s parents to immigrate to America legally knowing that this country would offer the best future Choices to birth a child in the United States for the purpose of receiving anchor baby benefits and entering the welfare system Choices of his parents to separate and for Dan el s mother to remain in the United States illegally after their work visa lapsed Choices have consequences, and Dan el struggled with the consequence of being illegal and paperless from his primary to his post graduate education His choice to work hard at his studies, along with the fortuitous help of many people and the scholarships he received, propelled him along an impressive academic path.While the book is well written and Dan el s story is noteworthy, there was a pervasive mindset of entitlement from his mother and himself which made the book a bit of a slog to read In addition, as his intellect rocketed upward, his character, unfortunately, did not His attitude toward and discussion of women with his fellow scholars did not mature and was a source of disappointment as a reader.It was also disappointing to realize that after all the educational and cultural opportunities afforded him in the United States, his attitude toward those whose opinions differed on immigration was, I could bang hard on how shortsighted it was of my old roommate to get suckered into this niggerizing discourse about undocumented immigrants Good for nothing, lazy, take shit from the hard working American coloreds How deaf are you if you can t hear the whispers of Nigger nigger nigger in the background And also a final word at the end of the book to all the haters It is regrettable that, despite his educational accomplishments, he cannot accept that an opposing viewpoint on immigration does not equal hate or the n word Dan el s academic trajectory was achievable because he lived his educational years in the United States Yet, he seems oddly indifferent to an honest examination of what is it about the United States that makes his amazing story possible Several principles and or systems come to mind adherence to a rule of law that allows citizens to live freely, pursue their dreams, and retain their private property the taxation of 1 2 of the population for redistribution in the form of entitlements the remaining vestiges of a free market economic system that continues to support families, business, and government and a mindset of charity of both time and money to help those in greater need Without these and, Dan el s story cannot happen, which is why his parents chose to come to the United States instead of Mexico or Brazil, or any of a hundred other countries.So, I wonder when Dan el ends the book with this paragraph Immigrant brothers and sisters Of course, people will yell at you that America is not yours That you have no stake in American, no place in America, no right to belong in America You must not let them get off lightly with saying that You must argue, remonstrate, shout back that your hands and feet and minds are as much a part of America as theirs are Together we must fight to ensure that America remains not the dream of the chauvinistically minded few but the fulfillment of hopes for many We are the ascendant America is ours, and we must not concede otherwise I wonder what laws I could break and raise my fist and shout a paragraph like this To what country could I immigrate, flaunt the rule of law, and not be held accountable Because, as a citizen of the United States, if I break the law, I am held accountable I will suffer the consequences Intelligence does not equal wisdom, and an accumulation of birthdays does not guarantee maturity


  6. Kasa Cotugno Kasa Cotugno says:

    At 4, Dan el Padilla Peralta moved with his family from the Dominican Republic so his pregnant mother could have better healthcare for the impending birth After his father s return to his homeland, his mother and he found themselves living in difficult condition in subsidized housing, but Dan el discovered his intellectual reach at an early age through a book on the shelf of a shelter s library His curiosity could be sparked by even the most everyday experience wondering why Brooklyn subway s At 4, Dan el Padilla Peralta moved with his family from the Dominican Republic so his pregnant mother could have better healthcare for the impending birth After his father s return to his homeland, his mother and he found themselves living in difficult condition in subsidized housing, but Dan el discovered his intellectual reach at an early age through a book on the shelf of a shelter s library His curiosity could be sparked by even the most everyday experience wondering why Brooklyn subway stations were named as they were, he thrilled at the discovery that they were named after Revolutionary generals Such began a remarkable life of study And he wasn t even 8 years old This special boy caught the attention of Jeff Corwin, a volunteer teaching art at the shelter Impressed by Dan el s interest in books and recognizing true academic curiosity, Jeff assisted in applying for scholarship admission to Collegiate School in Manhattan, his own alma mater This generous and important memoir lays out the family s difficulties due to the fact that without social security numbers or papeles formal id s , they could not receive paychecks Dan el recognizes his luck in coming across the path of people willing to go the extra mile to help with his pursuits His education, enviable by any yardstick, was hard won he earned the honors but doesn t make a huge issue out of it He focusses instead on the roadblocks put up by the system His whole story portrays someone of immense worth and contribution, and points out the value of privilege that should never be taken for granted by those lucky enough to have it I have enjoyed spending these past few days in Dan el s company through his book Highly recommended


  7. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    Really fascinating story It reads a little too much like a love letter to Collegiate and Princeton though.


  8. Kristi Richardson Kristi Richardson says:

    But I would rather run after the impossible than live as a string of labels undocumented, hoodrat, Dominican, classicist I am all of those things no one or two of them define me I was gifted this book through the Penguin First to Read program for an honest review.This is not the typical book I choose to read, but I felt it was timely with all of the talk about immigration reform and now with the Donald denigrating immigrants to such a low level, I couldn t resist reading this book.Dan el Pa But I would rather run after the impossible than live as a string of labels undocumented, hoodrat, Dominican, classicist I am all of those things no one or two of them define me I was gifted this book through the Penguin First to Read program for an honest review.This is not the typical book I choose to read, but I felt it was timely with all of the talk about immigration reform and now with the Donald denigrating immigrants to such a low level, I couldn t resist reading this book.Dan el Padilla Peralta is a young man from the Dominican Republic who came to America fresh out of kindergarten and whose mother decided she wanted her boys to grow up and be educated in America She made the choice to not return and so they lived as undocumented aliens except for Dan el s younger brother Yando who was born in America Dan el was an exceptionally smart young man He was able to get a full scholarship first to a Prep school called Collegiate, JFK Jr attended also and then he went on to Princeton and Oxford and now Stanford His story of a double life was heartrending at times and the stress he lived under and still was able to achieve everything he has is remarkable Dan el Padilla Peralta tells his story honestly and it made me realize what a tragedy was averted because he was able to stay in this country to achieve so much We truly need immigration reform and help these children of immigrants realize the American Dream that our grandparents were able to attain People who say Dan el is an exception to the rule miss the issue in this book that everyone should have the chance to live in America and contribute That is what makes our country so great Let s not lose that message that we have always stressed Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door Emma Lazarus


  9. Nicole Means Nicole Means says:

    When I first discovered this book, I was so excited I had finished reading Sonia Nazzario s Enrique s Journey, which explored the trials of an Enrique, an undocumented man So when I discovered Undocumented, a firsthand account of Dan el, I was so excited to delve even deeper into this important topic However, a book that had so much potential, fell flat with lack of exploration into the political and social implications of being an undocumented person in the US I have never been a huge f When I first discovered this book, I was so excited I had finished reading Sonia Nazzario s Enrique s Journey, which explored the trials of an Enrique, an undocumented man So when I discovered Undocumented, a firsthand account of Dan el, I was so excited to delve even deeper into this important topic However, a book that had so much potential, fell flat with lack of exploration into the political and social implications of being an undocumented person in the US I have never been a huge fan of the memoir genre because the tone can be a bit self serving and egocentric Unfortunately, Undocumented was no different the book started out quite strong, but as Dan el never found his groove In fact, his overuse of slang and lack of personal introspection caused his memoir to fall a bit flat His writing style came off a bit immature for a many who is so intelligent I am not sure if he chose to intermingle street slang with academic language to prove the point that his Dominican upbringing in East Harlem was just as much a part of him as his academic life at Princeton and Oxford, but whatever his intention, his memoir was a struggle to read in several portions His intellect was not very apparent in his writing Perhaps if he had incorporated statistics or facts beyond his own reality into the narrative, his story would have been a powerful platform to comment on the political decisions that caused such strife in his life


  10. Amanda Schwind Amanda Schwind says:

    This book provided wonderful perspective as I work with international students on a daily basis as an ELL teacher.