As Beto looks at the eight candles on his birthday cake, he knows that his wish is always the same. Beto wishes that he could be with his father every chance he gets. It has been three years since he and Mama left El Salvador. Lurking in his mind are the memories of the losses they suffered before leaving: the bombing of a factory, the burning of the family home, the loss of all their possessions, but most of all, he thinks of the father that he has left behind. In the United States, Mama has found a job in a sewing factory making jeans, and they are trying to bring Papa to the United States with the help of an immigration lawyer. But this is only the beginning, and for Beto, it seems that his father cannot come fast enough. One day in school, Beto is given the opportunity to write his father a letter. When he is invited to read it on Radio Voz del Immigrante, his heartfelt homage to home spurs a surprising chain of events, that even the imaginative Beto could not have expected.
In this book, readers discover a young character whose vision and tenacity allow him to accomplish a feat that once seemed nearly impossible. Through the character's memories of El Salvador and his classroom experiences, the reader also gains insight into the tense political ramifications of war in a country and how that war impacts its survivors. For Beto and the reader, Waiting for Papa/ Esperando a Papa is an educational on.