At some point in most people’s lives there comes a time when you want to go out with your friends but your parents won’t let you go. In the book of unknown Americans Mirabel and Mayor are in the same predicament. Alma, Mirabel’s mother has enforced strict rules on the kids only letting them see each other at their apartments. Though they live only feet away and attend the same school for a short while, Alma does not trust Mayor to be with Mirabel alone at all. Over parenting or over protecting your kids ultimately makes things worse for the parents in the end. It only pushes kids away making them resent their parents, rebel or just take it out on other kids around them.
Rafael grounds mayor until further notice for getting into a fight at school with garret and lying to him about being on the soccer team (Henriquez CH 13). After a while Mayor goes over to see Mirabel, Alma answers the door and comments that he should be grounded. Mayor lies and tells her that the punishment has been lifted.Alma believes him and lets Mirabel go over to Mayor’s apartment.Once out of Alma’s sight they sneak back out of Mayor’s and go over to the Toro’s car to talk and Mayor Kisses Mirabel (Henriquez CH 16).
If Rafael used less punishment and took a more understanding stance with Mayor then he would have never had to sneak out in the first place. Even if Rafael only grounded him for a set amount of time then he might have just waited to see Mirabel, but no he was grounded until further notice. This left him no choice but to sneak out to see her.
Mayor and Mirabel are forbidden to see one another after Quisqueya tells Alma that she saw them hanging out in the Toro family car and kissing (Henriquez CH 19). On the first snowfall of the year Mayor sneaks out and steals his dad’s car after school instead of going to the movies with his friend. He sneaks Mirabel out of class and they’re off to see the snow at the beach, stopping only for some fries at McDonalds (Henriquez CH20).The enforcement of strict rules on kids will lead to one thing and one only and it is not compliance, it is rebellion. Mayor promised to take Mirabel to see the snow and he had to make good on that promise no matter the circumstance. If Rafael and Alma took the time to talk to the kids they could have prevented unwanted behavior by meeting their kids needs but with some rules attached (Hunt). This way they feel like they are being treated fairly and heard. It is clear that their parents do not want them dating, but love finds a way. They could have given them a little more privacy and not have been so strict.
Due to Alma’s and Rafael’s strict rules it forces the kids to sneak out. This ultimately pushes Arturo, Mirabel’s father to go looking her when she doesn’t come home from school toward the end of the book. When Alma can’t find Mirabel after school she begins to panic. She goes over to Rafael’s apartment to ask if they have seen her. Celia, Mayors mother has not seen her and Mayor is out to the movies with his friend. Celia tries his cellphone but no answer, so they wait together. Alma Calls Arturo and tells him that Mirabel hasn’t come home from school. Once Arturo arrives he asks Alma if she has called the cops and she says no. Alma then tells him about what happened with Mirabel and Garett, a boy from Mayor’s school. How one day she came out of the apartment looking for Mirabel after school and found her around the corner with garret pinning her against the wall pulling her shirt up. She tells him that he lives in Capitol Oaks and that she once went over there to tell him to leave them alone. Arturo then goes over to garrets looking for Mirabel and Garret’s father proceeds to shoot Arturo on the front lawn. Arturo is rushed to the hospital but does not make it in the end (Henriquez CH 21). The kids finally return home very late at night to find Rafael smoking out front. He has Mayor Slide over and gets in and they take off, without telling Mayor anything. Mayor is left wondering the whole car ride what is going on. They arrive at the hospital get out and go inside where Celia is waiting. The only thing they will tell Mayor and Mirabel is that Arturo has been in an accident and that he is in surgery. After a while Mayor finally gets his mom Celia to tell him what happened (Henriquez CH22).
If Rafael and Alma had taken a more progressive parenting style with less punishment and more trust in their kids maybe things wouldn’t have ended the way they did. Rather than grounding Mayor he could have made him do chores or some other constructive punishment and he should have set a timeline rather than until further notice.
Until further notice basically means the rest of your life to a kid. Because of Alma’s strict rules on supervision, it forces the kids to sneak out for a little privacy. After Quisqueya snitches on them, they are forbidden to see one another. Now this is very harsh punishment and we see a very strong reaction out of Mayor. He throws caution to the wind and steals his father’s car to go see Mirabel. He knows that this will basically be the end of him but it is all worth it to him to be able to take her to the snow and try to get her to fall in love with him like his dad got his mom to fall in love with him at the very same beach. In an alternate ending with better parenting things could have gone much smoother for Mirabel and Mayor. Maybe everyone would still be alive and happy, and the two of them could be together.
HenriÌquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage Books, a Division of Random House LLC, 2015.
Hunt, Jan. “22 Alternatives to Punishment.” 22 Alternatives to Punishment – The Natural Child Project, http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/22_alternatives.html.