Book Reviews

Review: Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera and illustrated by Steph C.

Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story is a story about family and pressure. About the choices that Jessica has to make for her family. Being torn between anger and hope. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Jessica Cruz has done everything right. She’s a dedicated student, popular among her classmates, and has a loving family that has done everything they can to give her a better life in the United States. While Jessica is a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing her to go to school and live in the U.S., her parents are undocumented. Jessica usually worries for her parents, but her fears and anxiety escalate as a mayoral candidate with a strong anti-immigration stance runs for office.

As the xenophobia in Coast City increases, Jessica begins to debate whether it’s worth renewing her status to stay in the U.S., or if her family would be safer and better off moving back to Mexico. And despite her attempts to lean on her friends and family, she finds herself constantly visited by visions of Aztec gods, one pulling her towards hope and the other towards anger.

But when her father is detained by I.C.E., Jessica finds herself being pulled into an abyss of fear. With her father gone and feeling helpless, Jessica must find her way out of her fears and ultimately become a voice for her community.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Being a long time fan of Rivera’s work, I knew I had to check out Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story and I was not disappointed. Jessica’s story is one of hope, anger, and injustice. It’s also about friendship, solidarity, and family. Coming up against the xenophobia and racism with scenes that feel ripped from real life, Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story is emotional. It is a very different art style than I’m used to with these other DC YA comics, but I ended up loving it.

Jessica is almost crushed under the weight of responsibility. Of other’s dreams and hopes weighing on our shoulders. And her experiences are firmly rooted not only in her immigration status, but her family. These scenes were lovely, but they were tinged with fear and duty as Jessica is afraid of the law and the weight of the dreams. The ways that fear touches their lives even in spaces of joy. I loved how Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story explores not only racism, but the pressures of family.

The ways she’s put into unfair situations all the time. All the injustices that pile up as she becomes torn between rage and anger, hope and solidarity. How we can become so absorbed by our rage, their intolerance and fears, all the ways they seek to divide. But how much more important it is to find solidarity, alliances, and strength. Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story has an important message and I love its addition to the DC YA universe.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

Find Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


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