DescriptionTeaching Guide, created by Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
Julia comes of age in the murder capital of the world. Where is her father? Why are they shooting guns? Who are “they”?
Julia’s best friend is her diary. She calls it “My Everything” —twelve-years-old at its beginning and fifteen at the end— a girl at the beginning, a young woman at its end, knowing more than she ever wanted to know.
Julia tells her diary everything about growing up in Juárez. At first, her family loses their house and their car, then suddenly her father is making lots of money. The family has a new car and a new house. It doesn’t make sense. Her father’s gone a lot, and her mother is always distracted and worried, busy creating art and wondering where her husband is.
Life in Julia´s urban neighborhood is strange too: there are shootings in the middle of the street, cars and neighbors disappear, pet cats and entire homes are left behind. Girls are disappearing somewhere in the city. She hears people saying that drug cartels rule the streets, but who are they? She only knows that she and her brother can’t play outside. And she is becoming a young woman in the midst of this confusion and uncertainty.
She wants to move across the river to the United States where her aunt and cousins live. Julia writes about all this and about things she overhears, things she doesn’t quite understand, and things she simply tries not to think about. Then her father vanishes for real and Julia and her brother go to live with her aunt in El Paso. What’s happened to Dad? Will he come back? Nobody wants to answer. And Julia can only make lists of those things she loses.