Marie Marquardt's new young adult novel is The Radius of Us. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You've worked with immigrants for many years--how did you come up with the idea for this particular story and what do you think readers might take away from it given the current political climate surrounding immigration?--Marshal Zeringue
A: For six years, I have worked with an incredible group of volunteers to run a Georgia non-profit that works with immigrants and asylum-seekers in detention.
I often visit with young Central American asylum seekers who have fled some of the most dangerous communities in the world, and who are detained in prison-like conditions while they away their asylum hearings immigration court.
These young people are incredible, resilient, and brave. Their stories are so important and compelling. Not many people know what’s happening to make these teens seek protection in the U.S., or what life is like for them when they arrive. I hope this story will give readers some insight into that, while also giving them a great love story.
The political climate surrounding immigration right now is incredibly tense and extreme, and I think that many of the actions being taken by our administration are fed by fear and misunderstanding.
I hope that The Radius of Us will give readers a chance to see the issues they are hearing about in the media through another lens. I think that one of the great powers of fiction is that it gives us a chance to experience empathy, to get a feel for what it might be like to live in completely different circumstances than our own.
If we can develop empathy, if we can dwell for a while in the stories and experiences of immigrants and asylum-seekers, then we'll begin to ask better questions about immigration policy, and...[read on]