Editor’s note: Helen Thorpe, a freelance journalist living in Denver, released her first book, “Just Like Us,” in 2009 to much praise. The book documents the struggles of four young Denver women of Mexican descent adapting to life in the United States. It won the Colorado Book Award and was released in paperback in May 2011.
Helen also happens to be married to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.
Colorado Central: What first inspired you to write about immigrant students in Colorado?
Helen: I’ve always been interested in stories about immigration, because my parents immigrated to this country with me when I was a small child. They had legal entry visas, but the experience made me curious to know what it would be like to be brought here without legal status.
At first I was trying to find one undocumented student. And then I stumbled across four close friends, who were divided in terms of their immigration status. Two of the girls had legal status and two did not. Watching them interact illuminated the obstacles that the pair of girls without documents faced, because at every key juncture life was harder for them than it was for the documented girls.