I am an author of young adult novels, a college professor, and an immigration advocate.
How are these all connected? After many years as a researcher, service provider, and – most importantly – friend with immigrants to Georgia, I felt frustrated. I often spoke to groups about immigration and the need for immigration reform. I offered clear, rational explanations and data on why our immigration system needs to be repaired. And then I realized something: people only begin to care when they meet and get to know someone who is living inside this broken system. It’s been my great honor to have those very relationships over decades.
So, I decided to try my hand at writing a fictional (but very real) stories based on my own experiences. I hope these stories will bring readers into intimate, personal contact with messy, complicated, political situations. I care about these issues deeply, because I care about the people who are affected by them. I believe that, through story, we can connect to others in a deep, meaningful way – which can be a powerful tool against the hate, fear, and misunderstanding that plague our society.
And now, the formal bits: I am a Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. In addition to Dream Things True and The Radius of Us, I have co-authored two non-fiction books and written many articles on immigration. I have been interviewed about immigration on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Voice of America, NBC, and BBC America, among many other media outlets. I am proud and honored to be the co-chair of El Refugio, a Georgia non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families.
I live in the book-lover’s mecca of Decatur, Georgia with my spouse, four children, a dog, and a bearded dragon.