Books in Brief

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey From a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, by Dan-el Padilla Peralta (New York: Penguin Books; 320 pp., $17.00). I read Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s memoir of his illegal residency in the United States last week while on vacation in Germany, another country arguing about immigration. The book answered several questions long brewing in my mind. To start, how exactly does one jump from a homeless shelter, to an elite private high school, to college at Princeton and graduate school at Oxford and Stanford? Answer: innate ability and incredible luck. But that’s a taboo topic in today’s environment where the right race, class, gender, and now immigration status are the only acceptable merits. Peralta’s daisy chain of success started after a serendipitous encounter with an alumnus of the elite private high school who noticed his intellectual precocity. Once attached to that high school, an express elevator of influential connections then whisked him to the penthouse of America’s collegiate skyscraper. If the recent college admissions scandal bothered you, wait until you read about the little-discussed, old boy network still thriving between America’s elite high schools and its exclusive universities.

But I had picked up the book for other reasons. First, with caravans marching through Mexico toward our border and an uncountable population of illegal aliens...

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