The Girl in the Glass Box; James Grippando
Watching the news and hearing about the problems faced by immigrants just want to enter our country and hoping to become citizens, the primary subject of this novel brings to light this issue and more. Julia Rodriguez just wants to become an American citizen, working as a barista at Café de Caribe, she’s made many friends. Each one of the workers has something to hide and not stating her true nationality was one way to protect herself and her daughter. Escaping the clutches of an abusive husband and wanted safety. But as an undocumented Salvadorian immigrant she faced and still faces obstacles that could take her away from her daughter and running from an abusive husband that will stop at nothing until he takes her permanently down.
Fear overrides her daily as she prays that ICE won’t be called to deport her. This was never a factor until one day her lowlife boss, and café manager, Duncan McBride decided to take matters into his own hands since she refused his advances and threats. Within minutes he had Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the phone and seconds later she was roughly manhandled and taken away.
While Julia is in the detention center, Jack’s abuela asks him to help with her case. But there is something and someone more pressing as her 9th grade daughter Beatriz, is not dealing with the separation that well and all her mother wants is asylum, but she is charge with a felony in El Salvador. A victim of rape at the hand of her husband, Jorge, she aborted the child even though he paid and demanded she have the abortion. But rapes are suffered by many and her gangster husband, Jorge Rodriguez not only raped her but as the story reveals other young women too.
Someone found his way onto Beatriz bus and from that point on she seemed different. When Jack learns that she was witness to the rape, hypnosis is the answer but what happens after the bus ride changes it all. She is fearful, withdraws, does not eat or sleep and turns into you might say a walking zombie. The courtroom scenes are compelling, and the prosecutor is heartless as is the judge. No one seems to want to hear what Julia is going through and they are so stuck on what they think is their laws and nothing said will allow Julia to be released until her daughter is so withdrawn and is in the hospital.
A favorite character, Theo Knight is enlisted to help him in order to protect Jack from himself and the dangers of El Salvador where they make two dangerous trips. But, while this is happening a gang of dangerous men, captured unwilling immigrants using them for slave labor, prostitution or extorting money from their families with the threat of death or torture if the don’t comply to the person in their lair. Hugo is one man not to show his fear and when things spiral out of control, men are down in the gang and he finally escapes. His journey will be long and hard and his goal to take down Jorge once and for all.
As Theo and Jack meet with Marco where Julia volunteered, he sees the fruit of Jorge’s labors first hand. Hoping to get Julia out when her daughter shows shines of serious mental issues, she is granted freedom and the judge says she will be detained again if her daughter gets well. Heartbreaking, sad and so true to life as author James Grippando brings this issue of illegal immigrants just wanting asylum to life added in the abuse taken by so many at the hands of men who think they can skate the law. If she is deported, she’d face possible danger and death is sent back home but Jack’s voice is often heard by deaf ears. So, what will be the fate of this undocumented immigrant and her daughter.
Freed for a while and staying with her sister under difficult conditions, both Julia and Beatriz have just begun the next part of their fight.
While McBride thinks he’s got it in the bag and is served with a subpoena to be a witness in court, someone decided for him to make him disappear. Who? Someone is after Julia and her daughter and Florida might not be safe at all. Julia and Beatriz are free but when they enter their home, they find something that will tear things apart as McBride is dead and who left his body in her bathtub leaving her wide open to be arrested for murder and resent to the detention center.
Beatriz describes what happened to her as if she is in a box namely a glass box that she can see everything, but no one hears her voice as she tries to tell what she’s thinking, and the result is that it appears she is mute or cannot talk. Feeling closed in and winding up in the hospital twice the second the reason sends shockwaves and the result is two sisters are at odds. When the hearing for Julia is heard and the judge and the prosecutor seem to be on the same page, you wonder why so many undocumented people need someone on their side. The prosecutor is heartless and the fact that Julia’s husband demanded she have an abortion and now we learn he is hunting her and Hugo, things will take on a more dangerous turn. Gangs are at the heart of this novel, 18 is the name of the Gang and Hugo is now being hunted by Jorge. Will either one be stopped before more innocent lives are taken.
The courtroom scenes are realistic, and the judge’s words are heard but he unfeeling and lack of empathy in Jack’s adversaries comes through loud and clear.
Learning more about the reason for her withdrawal the author brings to light a life-threatening case of resignation syndrome. It’s as if Beatriz is trying to control the situation by getting sick and at one-point Jack thinks that someone close to her is making her ill. But, the truth about a drug like fentanyl is revealed as the cause of her second hospitalization in the ER. Family services might come into play and with Jorge and Hugo on a mission to control Julia, and Julia at times out of control, what happens when she and Theo find a path to each other?
Imagine a coffin made of glass and you body held within it to block out the world. Imagine reverting into yourself and keeping your thoughts within you and yet hoping that someone on the outside world hears your cries. Beatriz describes her feelings about being within a glass box as the courtroom scenes continue, the judge’s thoughts are heard, and you immediately realize that he has one mindset and no matter how hard Jack tries to fight for Julia things might not turn out the right way for her. With her sister blindsiding her during her testimony and her husband hoping to take her down, when Beatriz is caught in a difficult situation the outcome will shock readers. What happens when a young teen faces off with a dangerous killer? What if that killer is her father? The laws about deportation are clearly explained but the result and last page leaves us wondering if the author is going to write a sequel. Theo and Julia seem to be partnered up, but the outcome of this story makes you wonder just how corrupt the system is for undocumented immigrants. Abortion is illegal in El Salvador. Julia was violated by Jorge. This is a question of moral ethics as author James Grippando based this novel on a real-life story and brings it to life in graphic and vividly depicted and described way allowing readers to understand the desperation of not only Julia, her daughter but one man what would stop at nothing to get back what he stated as his property. Sexual and emotional abuse are two issues that are prominent in this novel and the injustices dished out in the courtroom are quite evident as the judges seemed to have their rulings set even before the first witness takes the stand.
What happens when a young girl feels that she must block out the world she winds up hiding within her as The Girl in the Glass Box.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ network/MJ magazine
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