The single best book I've read on the border/immigration crisis. Brings a much needed nuance and humanity to a deeply polarizing and politicized issue. Also see a more recent book on the border, "The Line Becomes a River."
FYI -- In the 2004 paperback edition of this book. Pages 1 and 2 are the unnumbered pages with maps located just before the narrative text begins. When you think you are on page "1," you are on page "3." Therefore, page "4" begins with the single word "River." I verified this today (6/7/18) with the author via Facebook Messaging when I alerted him to what I thought was an error. I quote his response to me here: "The pages aren't missing. That's how I wrote it. People have thought that since 2004 due to the seeming jump in text and the oddities of pagination." I had put off reading this book until the mystery was solved by the author. My bookseller thought it was an error too and said that I was the first person to point out the "error." I am a self-confessed "Book Nerd" who has worked in many bookstores, so little things like this drive me to distraction. At last, I can go back to reading this powerful book without thinking that I missed out on something important at the beginning. I'm sure the audio version of this book is not handicapped by this quirk of the printed book.
This true story is impossible to forget. Urrea writes in such a way that helps you understand what it means to be desperate and to cross the border. It is a book every reader should have in their library.
A great story, but more fiction than nonfiction here. Plenty of melodrama, exaggeration, errors and sentimentality.
I liked this book, but was somewhat disappointed in Urrea's overly sympathetic portrayal of Border Patrol agents.
a true story, very well written, about one particular incident of illegals trying to cross the Mexican/US border. No matter which side of the argument you are on, this is a fascinating read with some great statistics and facts. A great conversation starter.
This is a powerfully written book, and I learned things I didn't know about border crossing and Border Patrol, causing me to want to read more about it. I felt so, so sorry for those men; and I found out this happens every day!! And that is a damn, crying shame!!!
Mr. Urrea is an excellent writer, I hope I can find more of his books on the shelves of our wonderful libraries!!
Grim indeed. I could not finish this book. Too raw, too real. I could not bear the inhumanity that some people are willing to inflict upon others.
Ahhh, such a good book!!! In my work, I serve a large percentage of immigrant and refugee clients. This of course includes people who crossed the Southern Border illegally, so this book held special interest for me. Now when one of my clients exclaims, "I almost died when I crossed the border," I get it since I've read this book.
The narrative style of Urrea is entertaining and the details of the story itself kept me from wanting to put the book down, and provoked a range of responses. I cried. I worried over father and son. I had nightmares after one night's read. I felt patriotic.
The aspect that I most appreciated, however, was the fact the Urrea made no one a complete jerk or complete angel (well, maybe Rita Vargas was 100% Angel). Everyone was a multi-faceted human being. The border patrol agents are simply doing their jobs trying to protect the border. Sometimes they can be jerks (the origin of the word "tonk") and sometimes they can be heroes (the rescue effort described in great detail would make any American proud). The coyotes are young men (boys) who have few options for making a decent living--they might see themselves as Robin Hoods--helping their people get to a more prosperous life--but when worse comes to worse they will look out for themselves--just like most immature men would do, eh? The neutrality of Urrea's rendering of these characters might actually irritate people who have strong feelings one way or another about the various parties. It's the books strongest asset.
Everyone should read this book; it could help temper prejudices on all sides.
Grim. The true story of 26 illegal immigrants who pay, what is for them, humongous sums to a coyote syndicate to come to America to improve their lives for their families. They get lost in the desert. Some of them come out in plastic bags.
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