We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine Books hardcover, 18 August 2015).
Letty Espinosa has lived with her parents her whole life, even after she had kids. In fact, she worked three jobs while her mother looked after Alex, almost fifteen, and Luna, six. She really has no idea how to be a parent.
So when Letty's parents decide to move back to Mexico, she's stunned and overwhelmed. She struggles throughout the summer, because Luna won't even let her mother leave her to go to work. Which is tough, because Letty is a bartender.
Alex is still skeptical about his mother's parenting abilities, and doesn't make it easy for her. He begins to spend more and more time with Yesenia, a girl from his class who happens to be handicapped, and an illegal immigrant.
Letty switches to the day shift, but that means she makes less money. Eventually, with the help of her best friend Sara, she figures out a way to get them out of their unsavory neighborhood. Alex is rightly worried about Yesenia; once he starts at a different school, she is mercilessly teased and even beaten up.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh brought attention to the many problems faced by foster children in the United States in her debut novel The Language of Flowers. In this riveting story, she tackles the problems faced by undocumented immigrants and the difficulties of escaping poverty.
Be prepared, it's heart-wrenching, but well worth the time.
FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to Library Journal for the Advanced Reading Copy.