My Underground American Dream by Julissa Arie

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When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure.

After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa’s top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full time position–one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her “underground” secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads


What an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, powerful read! I have always enjoyed reading memoirs and this is definitely one that will stick with me for a long time. Julissa Arce’s story was equally sad and inspiring. Many readers will never know what it is truly like to walk in her footsteps, should we be so lucky. I think it is very brave of her to have told her story so openly, knowing that many people in this political climate would pass judgment.

I had the opportunity to see Arce speak at the Tucson Festival of Books which is how I learned about both of the memoirs she has written, and what sparked my interest in wanting to read her story. This books is as much a coming-of-age memoir as it is a peek into the life of someone who grew up as an illegal immigrant and the repercussions this had on her life.

I would definitely recommend this read, not because it will tell you everything you need to know about immigration in the United States, but because it is one story that humanizes a greater issue and that makes it worth reading.

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