Lalo is a Mexican-American New Yorker, growing up in one of the sketchiest buildings of a rough neighborhood. His mom Virginia sells tamales on the street, while his dad Ramon is one of the many illegal immigrants hired for the World Trade Center clean up.
One day, Lalo goes to his best friend’s birthday party but instead finds an angry crowd surrounding a handcuffed man being beaten by cops. It is here, amid all the chaos, that Lalo first sees Stefanie, a feisty, I-don’t-need-a-man Dominican. He is so taken by her that for a split second he escapes the violence taking place in front of him.
Stefanie lives in the shadow of her older sister who died on September 11th. Her father, Dionisio, uses infidelity and violence as a way to cope with his emotions and keep control over Stefanie and her mother Diana.
The next time Lalo and Stefanie see each other, she takes her frustrations out on him, completely humiliating him. Then a series of unlikely events leads to an awkward kiss and ultimately a friendship where fears and hopes are shared. Their bond, tested by Dionisio’s violence, grows stronger as they realize that with each other’s support they can handle anything, including growing up in a post–September 11th New York.
Don’t Let Me Drown is about the transcendent power of love in a time of fear, hate, and violence.
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