genre: narrative nonfiction
synopsis: a teenager, whose mother left for the united states to find work when he was five, travels across central america, mexico, and the united states to find her
setting: honduras, mexico, and the united states; 1990s-2000s
trigger warning: drug use, gruesome injuries, rape, armed robbery
thoughts: this is a book everybody needs to read.
(i would also leave it at that but i also think, given the strength of that statement, i should explain why i feel this way.)
so often, when i have heard people talk about illegal immigration, they talk about mexicans. what many people don’t know is that more mexicans are moving to mexico from the united states than vice versa; most of the illegal immigrants now crossing the southern border are central american; most of the central americans crossing the border are minors. the book doesn’t talk about any of those things; it’s just background knowledge i have that helps set the foundation for why i believe this book is so crucial a read.
nazario focuses particularly on enrique’s story, but she also uses it as a platform from which to shine a spotlight on the endemic problems facing most hondurans, such as abject poverty, rampant drug use, and persistent and increasing gang violence. for we americans to understand why so many people are willing to face their own deaths to cross our southern border, we have to know what they are leaving behind. i have said this countless times, even before reading this book.
even knowing how widespread these problems are in theory, however, did not prepare me for reading the intimate details of how they affect the lives of individual, real people. reading this book rent and shattered my heart; i burst into tears before i had even finished the introduction. the rest of it affected me more emotionally and even viscerally than any book ever has, and far more than i ever expected it to.
i want to simultaneously shove this book into your hands and rip it out of them – it is a hard book to read (i say that with full cognizance that my definition of hard is a privileged one), but it is a crucial one for anyone who has any thoughts whatsoever on immigration or accepting refugees.