The 2020-21 Common Book is "Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League"

Winona State University Common Book Project will feature "Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League" by Dr. Dan-El Padilla Peralta as its 2020-21 common book.

About the Book

Published in 2016, “Undocumented” is the memoir of Dr. Dan-El Padilla Peralta, who immigrated to the United States with his family from Santa Domingo when he was four. When their temporary visa lapsed, Dan-el’s mother chose to stay in the United States with Dan-el and his younger brother. Despite facing homelessness and having to navigate the very different worlds of East Harlem and private schools, Dan-el excelled academically, going on to become an Associate Professor of Classics at Princeton University.

His coming of age memoir sets the debates and discussions about immigration, education, and housing insecurity inside the lives of his individual family members and humanizes some of the most important policy issues of our time. The writing is engaging and thoughtful, at times funny, and always honest.

The book has been widely praised, with the “Minneapolis Star Tribune” writing this:
“’Undocumented’ is an impassioned counterargument to those who feel, as did some of Peralta’s more xenophobic classmates that “illegals” are good-for-nothings who take jobs from Americans and deserve to be kicked out of the country. No one who reads this story of a brilliant young man and his proud mother will automatically equate undocumented immigrant with idle parasite. That stereotype is something else we shouldn’t take for granted.”

Your Assignment...

If you choose to read "Undocumented," incorporate what you take away from the book into your life while at the university.

The book will be adopted in numerous sections of ENG 111, College Reading and Writing, and may be adopted in other courses as well. Use this opportunity to learn more about the greater community and turn your knowledge into action.

Where to Buy

"Undocumented" is published by Penguin Random House and will be available from the WSU Bookstore and other booksellers.

Additionally, a packet of teaching and contextual materials for prospective adopters is available for those teaching the book.

Faculty adopters should simply list the book (ISBN 9780143109334) on their book request through the WSU Bookstore.

Special Thanks

Funding for the Common Book Project has generously been made available by the College of Liberal Arts and the WSU Bookstore.

For more information about the project, please contact Prof. April Herndon at