Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call: Just Like Us is a story of America... and Denver

Political journalist Helen Thorpe had a problem when she moved to Denver: She came here to marry John Hickenlooper, an entrepreneur who soon decided to plunge into politics and was elected mayor of Denver.

What does a top reporter married to the town's top politician write about? The underdogs, the people that no one else is writing about, the people who, Thorpe discovered, are Just Like Us. Tonight, she will discuss her book, billed as "The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America." And while this tale of undocumented children growing up in America, as American as any other kids but for their parents' immigration status, is unfolding across the country, Just Like Us has particular resonance here, since these four girls all graduated from a local high school and then attended local universities and colleges. Thorpe follows them for more than four years, telling their stories as well as the story of this city: During her reporting, an illegal immigrant who'd been working in one of Hickenlooper's former restaurants killed a Denver cop, and suddenly the subject she'd tackled in her book struck very close to home.

For the complete tale, see Thorpe at 7:30 p.m. at the LoDo Tattered Cover, where she'll be signing copies of her stunning first book. In the meantime, get a sample of Thorpe's work by reading "Head of the Class," her piece about Pablo, another undocumented high schooler contemplating a difficult future.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun