The Disappeared is the story of a boy’s journey to reconcile the disappearance of his father.
In the midst of the recession, with his family already struggling to make ends meet, José’s father disappears. People in their neighborhood assume he’s walked out; only his mother thinks that he’ll return. José wants to believe that his father loved them, but everything’s different–their apartment, his school, their life.
When José finds a picture of his father in a collection of photos, José can’t stop thinking about how it got there and what it could mean about his father’s disappearance—or about how his memories might help bring him back.
I’ve had so many conversations with women my age about how important “A Wrinkle in Time” was to us when we were 12 or 13, because the main character was a smart girl. Until then, it seemed like most of the books we read had boy protagonists. As a Hispanic New Yorker, I had to wait until I read Junot Diaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2007 to feel the excitement of reading a book where my Latin heritage was reflected in a way that felt autentic. I wrote “The Disappeared” to offer that kind of experience to someone else. I wrote to reflect of our culture, from family to food to language, of wanting to fit in in two worlds, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking, and sometimes not feeling at home in either. And our complicated, unpronounceable names! Even my story’s magic realism has its roots in a belief in an unseen world, held by both sides of my family.
My hope is to portray an experience that is recognizable by Latinos—both boys and girls—but interesting to anyone.
The Disappeared is my third novel for middle graders.
In January 2014, The Disappeared was a co-winner of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators’ Emerging Voices Award.