Kind of Kin - Rilla Askew
I keep doing this thing where I write up a bunch of stuff and then somehow it all gets deleted on blogger and I have to start over and I know I should just write it all on Word first, but apparently I'm an idiot, and didn't.
Okay, so on to the book. I read this right after I read Into the Beautiful North (which I will review later -- I'm going to an author reading at the end of the month and want to see that first), which was interesting because I was totally not going for an illegal immigrant theme, that's just how my library holds worked out. So, they both take on different points of view and also different tones, on the subject of undocumented immigrants (specifically Mexican) in the United States, which has been one of those ever-present issues for as far back as our election memories go.
Kind of Kin has a whole clusterchuck of plot threads running around, which is all triggered by the passing of a new Oklahoma law that felon-izes the harboring of illegal immigrants. So, Bob Brown, father to Sweet Georgia Brown and sole guardian of ten-year-old Dustin Robert, is arrested for hiding a group of illegals immigrants on his farm. Dustin is sent to live with his Aunt Sweet and her Dudley Dursley-of-a-son, Carl Albert. He runs away to help Luis, the sole escapee of the raid on Bob's farm, get across the state to find his sons. Of course, he doesn't tell anyone and the police and media are thrown into a frenzy about this missing boy who's grandfather was arrested for harboring illegals. Which doesn't bode well for Oklahoma State Rep Monica Moorehouse, a major proponent of the law, who cares more about her D.C. ambitions than her actual constituents. As if that weren't enough, Aunt Sweet's niece, Misty Dawn shows up with her three-year old daughter and undocumented husband seeking refuge in the midst of the media and police circus that has been left in the wake of Dustin's disappearance.
So, I'm pretty sure harboring an illegal immigrant is already a federal crime, or maybe it's not officially been passed yet? I'm not quite so up on my legal jargon as I decided to go to library school instead of law school. If anyone knows more, please share. Regardless, the premise of the story still stands in that it explores the effects of such a law.
Askew appears to take the side of leniency in terms of undocumented immigrants, but the book itself isn't too preachy (well...aside from the parts with the preacher) and the ending isn't all "AND THAT IS WHY X SHOULD BE Y". It's a hypothetical story that explores the human effects such a law would have, which is why it's such a complex issue. And while there is a resolution of the immediate plot threads, the long-term effects and possibilities are left open.
I feel like I should have more to say on literary quality but I don't remember because I finished this book a while back and only now have time to write about it. I should probably start taking notes (also there was a bunch of other stuff I had to say, but then it all got DELETED and I don't remember what it was about).
Overall, the story had a grip on me--there was definitely a point where I simply could not put it down, and the prose was good, but not particularly memorable. Let's say...a nice, slightly above-average 3.5/5 Fancies?