Thoughts on My Own Research Style

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks now, and I cannot seem to shake it. This week’s reading brought it out into the light for me, so I figured that my idea could not be too crazy.
If and when I ever do research, I want to collect already existing data. Think about it: digital media is recording everything that my potential research participants are currently sharing. If I were to come up with a research topic that involved looking at how youth interact in an online environment, why wouldn’t I just approach youth and ask them for access to their Facebook (or whatever social media page is popular in that day and age) page? If I have their permission to access it, that takes care of the ethical dilemmas that would arise from undisclosed lurking. Plus, they data they’ve created is genuine. It won’t be manufactured specifically for my study, which would probably mean more digging and having to sift through lots of irrelevant data, but to me that makes it even more meaningful. The conversations they’ve had, things they’ve posted and shared, would all be coming from an un-monitored place. Then I could conduct interviews with these participants to gain further insight into their lives, ask questions for clarification of the data I’m going through. Sure, looking for that kind of access would probably make finding participants significantly more challenging…but you don’t know until you try, right?

Who knows? Maybe the youth of tomorrow won’t care so much about their privacy (for better or for worse) and it won’t actually be that difficult to gain allowed access. It might be as simple as a friend request (with a message that contains full disclosure about who I am and what my research is about, or course- I would only accept informed consent!).


Discussion: Reading Up

I am a huge believer that The Giver should be required reading, but in high school. Not because I don’t think that middle grade readers can handle it, but because so much more will be gained from reading it at an older age. Being someone who was made to read it as a 10-year-old, I can definitely report that I did not get much out of it as a child. There were whispers of ideas in my head as I read the book, and I definitely enjoyed the experience of it, but even the guided class discussions that we had  in my 5th grade classroom did not shed much light on the ideas of individuality and freedom for me. It wasn’t until I returned to The Giver years later that I realized the depth of the questions that Lowry is posing. But for an inquisitive tween, this book is very much accessible and functions as a great introduction to a dystopian society. I would recommend it highly.

Teens and adults can all appreciate the drama surrounding Katniss and the two young men that she is not yet sure about. And the violence is something that, while disturbing, is nothing that members of these age groups have not seen before. The violence and relationships are the things that make it questionable for a younger audience, but I do not think that they make it completely inaccessible. Tweens want to know about what Teens are feeling and doing. And although this is a fantasy novel set in a futuristic dystopian society, Katniss is still experiencing feelings towards boys that she does not understand, she is still a strong example of someone who is trying to do good and provide for her family but sometimes makes mistakes, and she is still a positive role model for young girls and boys who are trying to figure out who they are. While I would not necessarily suggest The Hunger Games to a middle grade reader, I would also not dissuade them from reading it if they really want to try it out. There would definitely be a conversation about it though, discussing the fact that it is violent and at times disturbing, but an assurance that I would love to hear what they thought of the book and answer any questions they might have about it while reading or after.

I do believe that the dystopian setting of both of these books helps to make their underlying questions more accessible to a wider audience. Because the world is not exactly like our own, it is safe to draw the darkness out and really inspect it. An older or more experienced reader will realize the similarities between the supposedly-fictitious dystopia and their own world, but for children this fictional landscape can create a barrier between the book and their own experience that will make these darker questions more acceptable to think about. When the close the book they can separate the more frightening aspects of the worlds presented in books like The Giver and The Hunger Games from their own and eventually learn to think about those ideas in the context of their own society as they are ready.

I “read up” constantly as a child- the small library available at my religious elementary school was not enough to keep me busy, and the public library did not have the same kind of watchful eye as my teachers. Somehow, I acquired the novelization of the movie Batman (with the Jack Nicholson as the Joker) when in the third grade and devoured it. I loved it so much that the librarian actually gave me my own copy to keep. Now THAT storyline was terribly inappropriate for an eight-year-old, and yet I managed to survive. My heart lies in the realm of: “If the child really wants to read it, let them. If you’re worried about the content, have a discussion with them about it during/after, but don’t try to block them from it. If you make it seem forbidden, they’ll find a way to read it anyway and then you will miss you chance to talk to them about it and see their reaction to it.” In my mind The Giver is not as much an example of reading up as I have a great desire to encourage people to “read down” to it. It was written on a level for the middle grade age group and can introduce some very challenging ideas. But those ideas can be appreciated even more once we’ve experienced more of the world.

A side note from a text I read in another class: This passage is talking about the panic that rises with regard to children and computers or the Internet, but I think it applies also to books that make adults nervous.

“John Springhall (1998) offers a historical context for the current fear surrounding computer games and the Internet, focusing on the phenomenon of “moral panics” that arise in response to youth culture. …Springhall argues that the forms of amusement that adults chose for youth often rely on a romantic ideal of childhood, while the entertainment youth choose for themselves often challenge this ideal, making adults uncomfortable” (Richman, 2007, p 184).

Now tell me, as a child, who didn’t enjoy feeling a little rebellious? And what’s a more widely acceptable act of rebellion than reading a book that someone might find questionable or even attempt to keep you from accessing? There will always be individuals who fear for the morality of those around them, especially children because these individuals tend to also think that as “less-than-adults” these children need more protecting than anyone else. And these individuals are often those who are most worried about “reading up” and children reading about things before they are actually ready to handle them. But isn’t it safer to have the experience first in a book? To see how someone else handles the situation, whatever that situation may be? It’s like doing research on life choices. The more examples you can see before you come into contact with that situation yourself, I think you’re bound to be better prepared.

Quoted research:

Springhall, J. (1998). Youth, Popular Culture, and Moral Panics. New York: St. Martin’s.

From the essay (in our textbook):

Richman, A. (2007). The outsider lurking online. In A. L. Best (Ed.), Representing youth: Methodological issues in critical youth studies (pp. 182-200). New York: New York University Press.


The Hunger Games


Author: Suzanne Collins

Age Range: 11-18 (Kirkus Reviews)

Interest Range: 10-Adult (based on popularity)

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Dystopian Fiction

Plot: Once, the Districts rebelled against the Capitol. As punishment, all 12 now have to compete in the yearly Hunger Games. Each District must send two Tributes, one boy and one girl, to compete to the death in the Capitol. The winner will be rich beyond their wildest dreams, but at what cost? To make things worse, the rest of the citizens are required to watch the televised coverage (think Reality TV-style) as their loved ones battle it out and eventually die. This year, Katniss Everdeen has done something unique: against better judgment, she has volunteered to participate in the games to save another citizen from being slaughtered. But will her hunting and survival skills be enough to keep her alive against 22 bloodthirsty strangers and one boy to whom she owes her own life?

Review: A face-paced dystopian novel, this book is simply addictive. I can completely understand why so many people have wanted to read it. Katniss is a strong character, with plenty of flaws, placed in a very precarious situation and the reader will sympathize with her immediately. The story itself is violent (young people being forced to fight to the death is going to be violent no matter how you describe it), and the feelings and emotions that Katniss experiences and describes are things that tweens may only have an inkling of, but I do not think that it is 100% inappropriate for tween readers. Tweens want to read up when the books are popular, and I genuinely think that this book would raise questions for an inquisitive 10-year-old, while flying over the heads of those who are not yet ready to “get it”. Those individuals probably will not enjoy the book as much as their peers anyway and wonder to themselves what all the fuss was about while on the outside they gush about how amazing it was. Would I choose this book for a middle grade reader? No. But would I try to prevent them from having access to it and reading it if they were interested? Also, no.

Themes: Dystopian society, Death, Socioeconomic Issues, Freedom, Relationships

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Katniss Everdeen: 16-years-old, a hunter who provides for her mother and sister on a daily basis. It is her (illegal) hunting skills that have kept the family alive and well since the death of her father. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games when her younger sister is picked at the Reaping.

Gabe: Katniss’s hunting partner, an 18-year-old boy. It is his last year for eligibility for the Reaping. Just before the ceremony, he suggests that he and Katniss could run away together into the wild and survive together with their combined skills.

Peeta Mellark: The Baker’s son, and the other tribute from District 12 for this year’s Hunger Games. He has secretly been in love with Katniss since they were small children. He and Katniss align as “Star-crossed lovers” to gain favor with sponsors and earn help in the competition- but for him it’s more than a ruse.

Bibliographic Info:

Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, Inc.


Katniss is a survivor. She has to be.

The Giver


Author: Lois Lowry

Age Range: 12-17 (various retail websites)

Interest Range: 10-Adult

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: Jonas lives in a perfect society. Everyone is equal. Everyone is at peace. And since no one has known life any other way, they are all happy. Every December, children advance in age with their peer group, and this year Jonas’s peer group will be attending the Ceremony of the Twelves. He will be receiving his life-long work assignment and entering a year of training before becoming an officially trained adult the following December. By now, most kids know or at least have some idea of what they will be assigned- for the last three years the Elevens have been required to complete volunteer hours at whatever careers interest them, and this usually gives the Selection Committee the information they need to assign a fitting career. But Jonas has been all over the map, and although there are a few jobs he would be disappointed to receive he has no idea what title will ultimately be chosen for him. Eventually, his new assignment will help him to learn things about his “peaceful” community that make his skin crawl. Will he be able to handle the job of Receiver, or will he fail like the girl before him?

Review: The level of depth in this book is amazing. Another “tween book” that was obviously not written for the 8-12 age range but it often placed there because of the age of the protagonist. I can report with certainty that when I had to read this book in the 5th grade there is no way  I absorbed all of the levels and implications in this novel. Jonas’s society shuns anything that might give you a sense of individualism- they’ve even managed to remove all of the colors.  Anyone that breaks their mold is Released. The citizens of the town are lied to on a regular basis and they often lie to themselves- how else could they live with themselves after “Releasing” small children and old people? They don’t know any better, but does that make it ok? And the amazing burden placed on the Receiver of Memory: to be the retainer for all of the world’s memories of the time before the community existed. To be the only person who knows color, happiness, and love alongside destruction, pain, and war is a burden that no child can completely comprehend or appreciate. As an adult I can only acknowledge that it would be an insurmountable level of pain to have to know those things and have no one to share them with; I cannot even begin to fathom the actual pain itself. A wonderful book that I would never try to dissuade someone from reading, but I would definitely urge older audiences to revisit it to gain a deeper level of understanding from the story.

Themes: Individualism, The Right to Choice, Freedom, Tough Issues, Dystopia

Additional Info:

Awards: Newbery Award Winner for 1994

Main Characters:

Jonas: An Eleven who is about to turn Twelve and receive his official work assignment. Jonas is interested in everything and even possesses a special ability to “see-beyond”. But his uniqueness makes him feel like an outsider in the community, and this is reflected in his assignment to Receiver of Memory. Jonas will be responsible for holding the memories of all mankind prior to life in their community was established.

The Giver: The previous holder of all those memories, The Giver must now translate those memories to Jonas. When his job is done, he will be Released from the community.

Gabriel: The newchild that Jonas’s father brings home for extra care. Gabe is having trouble advancing as the newchildren (newborns) should and is threatened with being Released. Jonas’s father believes that with some extra attention this can be avoided. It is eventually Jonas who is able to help the baby sleep through the night and begin to make progress with his growth and development.

Asher: Jonas’s close childhood friend. When the two of them receive their assignments, their friendship becomes strained and they become distanced.

Fiona: Jonas’s favorite female friend. She is kind and loving and is assigned to the House of the Old, where she will help to Release the oldest members of society from the community and into Elsewhere.

Bibliographic Info:

Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. New York: Random House, Inc.


What would you be willing to give up to live in the perfect society?



Author: Kate Klise

Age Range: 9-12 (Kirkus Reviews)

Interest Range: 9-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: The year is 1983. Dennis Acres is a  tiny town in Missouri, and Benny Summer is a 12-year-old boy who spends most of his evenings listening to his parents fight. That is, until his mom walks out and moves back to New Orleans. Benny just can’t shake the deep, sad feeling that he can only name as “homesickness” as his father starts to make their home disappear. Benny’s dad owned an antique shop, until he started refusing to sell his antiques to anyone, claiming they were all “too valuable”. And now, all of the antiques reside in their house, with them, and with any junk that his father can find. A tower of pizza boxes continues to grow in the kitchen and when Benny tries to throw them away, his father freaks out and claims that they will someday be valuable too. Will Benny ever be able to get his dad to clean up? And will his mother ever come back so that Benny can find his home again?

Review: This book has a lot going on. In addition to being  a hoarder, Benny’s father also continually talks about how one day the entire world will be connected by a huge computer network. His predictions of what we know today as the Internet do sound strange in the mouth of someone from the early 1980s, and some of the things he believes will be possible really are quite crazy, but the reader gets to see how sometimes people with truly amazing ideas can be viewed as “crazy” by their closest friends and family. The reader also is seeing how mental illness was viewed in a time when many people still feared it and did not acknowledge it. In the end, Calvin is admitted to a hospital for other reasons and they determine what is really wrong with him. He is helped to realize his problem, given medication, and is put on track to live a normal life. While all of this is happening, Benny is also involved in the starting of the town radio station and experiences lots of regular 12-year-old boy feelings about school, and the girl who sits behind him in class, and the fact that his parents don’t get along.

Themes: Changes at Home, Economic Hardship, Mental Illness, Divorce

Additional Info:

Main Characters:

Benny Summer: 12-year-old Benny is left alone to take care of his father for months while trying to navigate the sixth grade. He has a job at the local radio station, run by his father’s best friend, Myron, and avoids going to all of his piano lessons. He also has a crush on Stormy Walker.

Calvin Summer: Benny’s father, who suffers from a serotonin deficiency and hoards just about anything he can get his hands on. His “collecting” turns their home into an unlivable wreck, full of rats and mold, and his illness keeps him from seeing the danger and embarrassment that he is putting his son through.

Nola Rene Summer: Benny’s mother, who leaves when she becomes so frustrated at her husband’s inability to throw anything away that she just cannot take it anymore. She calls home infrequently to check on Benny and promises to come back for him at the end of the school year and bring him back to New Orleans with her. She either does not realize that her husband is sick, or does not care to.

Myron Kazie: Calvin’s best friend from when they were in high school and the owner of the local radio station. Myron acts as a kind of stand-in father for Benny, offering him a paying job at the radio station and constantly checking on him to make sure he’s ok. At a few points, Myron does attempt to intervene with Calvin, but Calvin’s intense level of self-defense keeps him at bay.

Mrs. Rosso: Benny’s sixth-grade teacher, who becomes another caretaker for Benny. She realizes what is going on at home and attempts to encourage Benny’s desire to clean up the house by allowing it to be his service project for school. When Calvin calls her at home in a fit of rage, she takes a more serious, yet hidden, role in helping Benny out- secretly teaching him to do laundry, and bringing him new clothes and personal items when he needs them.

Stormy Walker: The pretty girl who sits behind Benny in Mrs. Rosso’s class. Benny and Stormy eventually become friends when disaster strikes the entire town.

Bibliographic Info:

Klise, K. (2012). Homesick. New York: Macmillan.


His parents are splitting up, and even though he hasn’t left home Benny still can’t shake a feeling of homesickness when his mother leaves for good.

Forays into Modern Technology: The Shapshot Book Trailer

This was produced using the free software available at Animoto. Very easy to use and creates quite the professional-looking product. The free version keeps you to 30 seconds, but I know from this experience I’m tempted to use it for much more.


The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

Discussion: Diversity

The great thing about reading is that you can enter the mind of another human being (or cat, or owl, or whatever is telling the story for that matter) and see their deepest thoughts. The thoughts and feelings that no one else in their world can see are laid out, right in front of you, with astonishing and otherwise impossible honesty.

This experience is why reading about the lives of characters from other backgrounds, countries, walks of life is so important and can be so beneficial. What other medium allows us to completely know the thoughts in someone’s head? I am a white middle-class American, rarely having lived in situations where I was the minority. So by reading Bud, Not Buddy, I can get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of a young African-American orphan who was homeless during the depression. Or by reading Esperanza Rising I can see how a 13-year-old Mexican girl from a wealthy family deals with losing everything she’s ever had or known and working as a field laborer. Tales from the outsiders’ point of view give us insight into what those individuals are thinking and feeling, and often having that insight is the eye-opening first step to experiencing empathy for them and eventually accepting them and learning from them.

I was talking with a friend over dinner last night, discussing the increasing presence of GBLTQ characters in YA fiction (I had given her a copy of The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth -lowercase intentional- which talks about a young lesbian growing up in Montana and dealing with people trying to “fix” her) and how excited we were at the possibility of an eventuality where kids might grow up reading stories about people like themselves and knowing that they are very much okay and just as normal as anyone else. The same goes for people of different races or belief systems. The presence of more stories by and about individuals who have experienced different walks of life is invaluable, and we have to demand it of both publishers and authors. Because if these books are available, more people will read them than just those who identify as black, asian, GBLTQ, or athiest. People who know nothing about those backgrounds will read them too. And then maybe we can finally start to understand each other a little earlier in life, and learn to appreciate each other as human beings sharing an experience together- the sum of which is truly greater than each of our individual parts.

When Things Click

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany about research. It was small, but it made a huge difference in how I’ve been able to approach my classes this semester.

285 is a class on Research Methods. The major project for this class is to come up with a research proposal. Along the way we also have to turn in abstracts on articles and a literary review, among other things. I’m also taking 264, a class on Materials for Tweens (books, etc. for ages 8-12), and for this class we have a research paper that is due at semester’s end. So far, the assignments that have been due for each class have almost mirrored each other, the biggest coincidence so far being annotated bibliographies that were turned in one week apart. It’s been a happy accident that the two classes are structured this way, because what I’m learning in 285 can almost directly be applied to my research for 264. But one day, as I was reflecting on these similarities and wondering when the two would really split apart, I had an epiphany that I could not ignore and just had to check to make sure I was on the right track: A literary review is, generally speaking, very similar to a research paper- or at least every one I’ve ever had to write.

Realizing this, I quickly wrote down my thoughts and sent them off to my 264 professor just to check myself and make sure I was at least going in the correct direction. She confirmed that I had the right idea, but there are still some differences. Our discussion on it wasn’t long or detailed, but enough to give me some peace of mind. I have a better understanding of it now, but it’s really making the Lit Review for 285 seem less daunting. And the research paper for 264 too.

The major difference, to me anyway, is that a Literature Review is not a final product. It is instead a link in the chain of a research proposal. You have to complete it to justify your ultimate idea, but it isn’t where your research ends. It is just a summary of existing research that you’ve looked through in order to prepare for your own research project on a topic. It is to show what areas have already been covered, and how, and where there might be gaps that your research can fill or issues that need to be covered further that your research can help to supplement. The research papers I have written in the past are also a synthesizing of other people’s research, but simply put together to help me prove my point. They are an end product in themselves, maybe with the intent to inspire more research on someone else’s part or act as a call to action, but one can read them as a stand alone object and experience everything that they are intended to provide. But the process to achieve both writings is very similar. The level of research that is going into both of mine this semester is certainly the same. In fact, my Literature Review and the first draft of my Research Paper are even due around the same time, I believe. It looks like my timelines will continue to coincide for another few weeks, anyway!

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Author: Stephan Pastis

Age Range: 9-12

Interest Range: 9-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Humor

Plot: Timmy Failure is a genius, a model of greatness, and a world-class detective. Too bad no one else sees it. He is forced to go through school, even though it is a waste of his precious time- time that could be spent working on his business, Total Failure, Inc., which is surely soon to go global. Timmy spends his free-time solving crimes for school friends with his sidekick, a polar bear named Total who does little more than eat chicken nuggets. But things aren’t all great: when his mother finds out about his failing grades she threatens to shut down the agency, and then there’s the Girl Who Must Not Be Named who runs a competing detective agency in town. Will Timmy be able to save his business? Will anyone ever see just how great he really is?

Review: I was tempted to write the words “think Wimpy Kid”, but this is better. The writing style is very much the same: young boy narrating his story, very sarcastic and very funny, with lots of hand-drawn illustrations to get his points across. But this book is so much more. Through Timmy’s thin veil of sarcasm and make-believe we get a glimpse of his real life: his single-parent mother is having a hard time at work, she’s begun dating again, they have to downsize to a small apartment, Timmy begins having to sleep on a pull-out couch in the living room, he’s failing in school and the teacher is threatening to hold him back, he doesn’t sit with the other kids at lunch or play with anyone at recess. Timmy’s got some real problems, and he chooses to deal with it by making up a detective agency and consistently telling himself that he’s the best thing around. I give the character props for not being down on himself, but the level of make-believe is almost disturbing- at least from an adult perspective.

Themes: Changes at Home, Middle School, Economic Hardship

Additional Info:

Fun Fact: Written by the author of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Definitely shares the same sense of humor.

Main Characters:

Timmy Failure: A middle school student who has a very active imagination that often gets in the way of real life. He runs a detective agency, Total Failure, Inc., with his polar bear named Total. Timmy genuinely believes that he is the greatest thing around and does not need to waste time on school or other people.

Total: Timmy’s pet polar bear, who rarely says anything but is involved in all of the Total Failure business.

Rollo: Timmy’s “Idiot Best Friend” who is actually one of the best students in their class. His perfect GPA comes from lots of studying and hard work, which Timmy just cannot understand.

Timmy’s mother: A constant presence, even though she rarely says anything in the narrative. When she learns about Timmy’s failing grades, she makes him shut down the detective agency and get rid of Total. She allows him to start cases again when they are specifically for his new teacher.

Mr. Jenkins: The new teacher for Timmy’s class after Old Man Crocus finally leaves for Florida. Mr. Jenkins has a good understanding of Timmy’s real problem with school and cleverly gets him to start engaging by acting as if each assignment is a new case for the best detective around.

Bibliographic Info:

Pastis, S. (2013). Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.


With a name like Timmy Failure, you might think he’s a loser. But he isn’t, he’s the greatest detective in town- probably the world.

Esperanza Rising


Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Age Range: 9-15

Interest Range: 9-15

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Esperanza comes from a wealthy Mexican family. Her father owned a ranch that spanned thousands of acres, and her family surrounded Esperanza with love and comfort. But the day before her 13th birthday, her father is murdered and everything changes. Soon, Esperanza finds herself on a train, moving to America with a family of ranch hands that her father used to employ. Life in America is hard. It is the beginning of the Great Depression, and people are struggling to find work. Esperanza’s new family is living in California, working on one of the company farms doing backbreaking work for very low wages. Some of the Mexican immigrants want to organize and demand a better life. Will Esperanza ever be able to adjust to this new situation? And just what will happen to those who do decide to fight for their advancement?

Review: This book covers so many difficult topics. Esperanza deals with death, loss of an entire known life, a change of economic class, she is forced to grow up very early in life and take on the role of a provider before she even turns 14. Around her big things are happening: workers are trying to form Unions and stand up for their rights as citizens and human beings, plus the depression is happening and forcing more cheap labor to move out west and make their working situation even more precarious. And Esperanza struggles with it all. She is often upset, refusing to accept her new circumstances and often stubborn. Eventually she learns how to exist in this new life, and even comes around to understanding why people would strike and want to fight for something better.

Themes: Coming of age, Loss, Race, Homelessness, The Great Depression, Immigration

Additional Info:

Awards: Pura Belpre Award (for a Latino writer who best portrays the Latin cultural experience in a book for children/young adults), Jane Addams Peace Award (book advances the causes of peace and social equality), Willa Cather Literary Award (women’s stories set in the American West), Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Main Characters:

Esperanza: A 13-year old girl who immigrates to America with her mother and a family of field workers who were once employed by her father. She is forced to learn the life of a field hand and deals first-hand with the immigration process and the hardships of life as a laborer in the Great Depression.

Ramona: Esperanza’s mother, who remains strong to get her daughter to America, but then falls ill and enters a deep depression. She is eventually hospitalized, and Esperanza is left to take care of herself.

Miguel: The young man of the family that Esperanza travels to America with. The two of them had been friends as children, but when Esperanza learned about classes in Mexico, she shunned Miguel’s friendship and declared that they were on “opposite sides of the river”. Moving to America has placed him on even ground with Esperanza, and their relationship changes again. He hopes to find work with the railroad, since he is gifted with machinery.

Bibliographic Info:

Ryan, P. M. (2000). Esperanza Rising. New York: Scholastic, Inc.


Everything can change in an instant. When Esperanza’s family moves to the United States, she is forced to learn how true this really is.