Dan-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 sons. Without 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 country. There 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 class. From 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. Undocumented is a classic story of the triumph of the human spirit. It also is the perfect cri de coeur for the debate on comprehensive immigration reform.
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©2015 Dan-el Padilla Peralta (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
"Dan-el Padilla Peralta's story is as compulsively readable as a novel.... From homeless shelter to Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford...he documents the America we should still aspire to be." (Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America Foundation)
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"A Very Likable Young Man"
This book was engaging and captivating. It made me root for Dan-el an his family throughout and even tear up a few times. What I liked the most was the way the author described his friends and family. In fact, I liked that part so much I thought there was not enough of it. It felt like the book was too concise and that it could have gone into more details about the relationships between Dan-el and the other characters.
The author's narration was excellent and gave an added dimension to the experience of listening to this book.
"this genuine memoir kept my interest"
The author writes and reads his story, from inner city homelessness to an Ivy League College. I had loved The Short of Tragic Life of Robert Peace, which prompted me to try this, too. This, Peralta's book, is so different. While Dan-el is a brilliant scholar, he is just a regular guy in so many ways. This is not a riveting book, but it is an authentic glimpse into another person's life, a life I was curious about. I teach some students like Dan-el, and felt this book would be valuable to me as a teacher. It was. The beginning of this book was a little slow, but picked up when Dan-el got to high school and college. He did need to deal with his race, and the fact that he had no legal papers. He had to deal with safety issues of living "in the hood." But he also had to deal with so many other normal issues of growing up - finding yourself and finding your comfort zone. Even had he not been an illegal, black immigrant, being a nerdy, intellectual boy is tough when you are growing up! The author is both ordinary and extraordinary, and to me, that was the appeal of this author's life story. I am glad I got to know him through his memoir.
"Dan-el, in writing..."
Great and engaging listen. Beyond the unnecessarily coarse language inconsistently used, it was a remarkable listen.
Perhaps Dan-el had intense motivations that led him to write this book and that I failed to catch, I believe that ending with a focus on his last minute love story and on immigration "laws" instead of sharing reflections on some crucial aspects of this story seems simply bizarre.
A salient note on a form of gratitude to positive "American" intentions or support, such as Jeff or the Clintons' efforts seems natural part of any grownup's attempt to write this life story.
There would be in this book, my opinion reads, more to be learned by an individual than by a state.
And Dan-el enamored, even more than his virtuous and tenacious mother, is probably not what the author wished we remember...
But undocumented was delivered from the heart and no listener can easily fail to grasp the skillful telling of a boy's inspiring life.
He used such bad language, I couldn't finish the book. Listening to the audiobook was like having someone sitting beside you swearing. I taught in several prisons and none of my students talked like that in my presence. If this boy was a cut above the usual immigrant, you certainly wouldn't know it by his language.
I hated it. I could not get over the vile language.
"Couldn't take author's attitude"
Too entitled, only got through chapter 3. Found his narration annoying as well. Too bad, because he clearly has an inspiring story to tell; I just couldn't deal with the "gimme" attitude of both him and his mother, documented or not.
I really wasn't sure about this book when I purchased it but it seemed interesting. I loved hearing this author's life story as told by him in his own words and voice for this recording. With all the contraversy surrounding immigration reform I appreciated this unique perspective.
I recommend especially during this time when so many are concerned about new immigrants in America.
"Overall okay book"
I liked the story, mostly the first two thirds, then I lost interest a bit.
Didn't care for the narration style.
"Story was great...but..."
I really enjoyed hearing this story of an undocumented, brilliantly gifted boy from the Dominican Republic, except for the language throughout. I believe the story would have been just as good without all the profanity. For that reason I gave the Overall a 3.
"Socrates and Plato be so fly, yo. No frontin."
I really enjoyed this book on a lot of levels. It was a fun mix of inspiration and humor, as well as challenging to my preconceptions of what an undocumented immigrant (illegal alien) actually is, and the challenges they face. Peralta's style is winsome, in a streetwise way, and he captures his moving between the worlds of prep school, crackhead apartment, and Catholic catechism with skilled effortlessness. Other reviewers have commented on his whininess at not getting to study abroad because of his immigration status, and I guess I felt a twinge of resentment, but I got over it when I thought about how much more he had to overcome than I ever did. Last thing: the narration was excellent. I don't think it would have been nearly as satisfying a listen had it not been narrated by the author.
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