Undercover Latina

Candlewick. (The Factory: Bk. 1). Oct. 2022. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536223743.
Gr 5 Up–Fourteen-year-old Andréa Hernández-Baldoquín comes from a family of spies; they work for The Factory, an international organization that serves people of color. Andréa goes undercover posing as a white teenager in Arizona, trying to infiltrate the high school and befriend Kyle, whose estranged father might be a dangerous white supremacist. With her mother, they become Andrea and Barbara Burke as they assimilate into the community. Andréa finds out that her target, Kyle, is an avid player of an online fantasy card game called Triángulo, and she learns how to play to befriend him. Things get tangled up when she develops feelings for Kyle’s Latinx friend, Ramón, but she can’t divulge her own Latinx heritage. As a white girl, Andréa observes racism toward the Latinx community from a new perspective and grapples with her hidden identity. Trying not to blow her cover when a potential deadly threat is unearthed, Andréa travels with Kyle to the San Diego ComicCon as characters from Triángulo. An author of spy novels for adults, de Leon tries her hand at her first foray into fiction for younger readers, and she has created a fast-paced, resonant story that touches on inter- and intra-community discrimination.
VERDICT A strong selection for gamers and middle graders who enjoy action-packed narratives. With broad appeal to fans of spy novels, this title will engage tweens while offering a thoughtful conversation-starter. Highly recommended.

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