Beyond the Vote: Sanctuary

A Latina Theory conversation with authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher

Podcasters Maria Isa & Jessica Lopez Lyman of Latina Theory moderate a discussion between authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher about their new book SANCTUARY.


Paola Mendoza, the co-founder of the Women’s March makes her YA debut in a near future dystopian where a young girl and her brother must escape a xenophobic government to find sanctuary.

It’s 2032, and in this near-future America, all citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked–from buses to grocery stores. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Vali is doing. She and her family have carved out a stable, happy life in small-town Vermont, but when Vali’s mother’s counterfeit chip starts malfunctioning and the Deportation Forces raid their town, they are forced to flee. Now on the run, Vali and her family are desperately trying to make it to her tía Luna’s in California, a sanctuary state that is currently being walled off from the rest of the country. But when Vali’s mother is detained before their journey even really begins, Vali must carry on with her younger brother across the country to make it to safety before it’s too late.

Gripping and urgent, co-authors Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher have crafted a narrative that is as haunting as it is hopeful in envisioning a future where everyone can find sanctuary.

Paola Mendoza

Paola Mendoza is a film director, activist, author and artist working at the leading-edge of human rights. A co-founder of The Women’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored the New York Times best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World. Paola’s most recent book Sanctuary was released to critical acclaim by Penguin. Ms. Mendoza is also a film director whose films have premiered at the most prestigious film festivals around the world. Her films have thoughtfully tackled the complex issues of poverty and immigration on women and children in the United States. She was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2017 and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. She is a co-founder of The Soze Agency and is a co-founder of The Resistance Revival Chorus, the critically acclaimed women’s chorus that believes, “Joy is an act of resistance.”

Abby Sher

Abby Sher is an award-winning writer and performer. She is the author of Miss You Love You Hate You Bye, All the Ways the World Can End, Breaking Free, Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying, and Kissing Snowflakes. One of her essays was included in the first season of Amazon TV’s, Modern Love. Abby has written and/or performed for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Second City, Upright Citizen's Brigade, HBO and NPR. Writing Sanctuary with Paola Mendoza has been a dream come true.

Jessica Lopez Lyman - Latina Theory

Jessica Lopez Lyman, Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary performance artist and Xicana feminist scholar. She researches Midwestern Chicana/ox and Latina/o/x experiences, social movements, and arts engagement. Lopez Lyman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is a co-host of Latina Theory Podcast with Maria Isa.

Maria Isa - Latina Theory

Maria Isa is a national award-winning Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, actress, rapper, activist and recording artist born in Minnesota and raised on St. Paul’s West Side barrio. Isa is a recipient of the 2019-2020McKnight Artist Fellowship for Musicians, CEO of SotaRico Records, directs mentorship for the non-profit organization Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project, co-host and founder of Latina Theory A Spanglish Podcast, 2019 Alumni of the Wilder Foundation’s Community Equity Project, and advocates for #Insulin4All Minnesota. Maria Isa is an advisor for El Fondo Boricua of the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation assisting disaster relief and cultural programming in Puerto Rico by way of Minnesota. Her latest EP “Amor Universal” is available now on all music streaming platforms.