Three books about immigration to read this August
With so much sad news coming from the U.S.-Mexico border, AL DÍA News has selected three books that tell us the immigrant stories that illustrate the humanitarian crisis enveloping the area.
By Margaret Regan (2016)
Based in Tucson, Arizona, journalist Margaret Regan has been reporting on the escalating chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border (ground zero for immigration) since 2000. Her latest book, "Detained and Deported," offers an intimate look at the people ensnared by the U.S. detention and deportation system, the largest in the world.
The book features the story of Elena Santiago, an immigrant woman living in Phoenix. One morning, when Elena opened the door of her house, she found her home surrounded by a platoon of federal immigration agents. Her children screamed as the officers handcuffed her and drove her away. Within hours, she was deported to the rough border town of Nogales, Sonora, with nothing but the clothes on her back. Her two-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, both American citizens, were taken by the state of Arizona and consigned to foster care. Their mother’s only offense: living undocumented in the United States.
Thousands of immigrants like Elena languish in detention centers—often torn from their families for months or even years. Deportees are returned to violent Central American nations or unceremoniously dropped off in dangerous Mexican border towns. Despite the dangers of the desert crossing, many immigrants will slip across the border again, stopping at nothing to get home to their children.
By Reyna Grande (2013)
Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "the 'Angela's Ashes' of the modern Mexican immigrant experience,” the "Distance Between Us" is about Reyna Grande's life before and after coming to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant child. It is about what is lost and what is gained in the pursuit of a better life. It is also available in Spanish as "La distancia entre nosotros."
Born in Mexico in 1975, Grande was raised by her grandparents after her parents left her behind while they worked in the U.S. She came to the U.S. undocumented at the age of nine and went on to become the first person in her family to obtain a higher education.
In the book, the author explains how she and her siblings were forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.
Reyna ‘s first novel, "Across A Hundred Mountains" (Atria 2006), received an American Book Award (2007), El Premio Aztlan Literary Award (2006), and a Latino Books Into Movies Award (2010). Her second novel, "Dancing with Butterflies," was published in October 2009.
By Alexandra Diaz (2017)
Inspired by true events, "The Only Road" is a middle-school age children's book that tells the story of Jaime, a 12-year-old kid from Guatemala that makes a life-changing journey from his home country to live with his older brother in New Mexico.
What pushes Jaime to migrate to the U.S is quite simple: escape from violence. He was sitting on his bed drawing when he heard a scream. Instantly, he knows — Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead. Miguel was killed by the Alphas — a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking — when he refused to work for them. With Miguel gone, Jaime fears that he is next. Thus, there’s only one choice: flee to the U.S, accompanied by his cousin Ángela, in search of a better life.
“The story will bring young readers face to face with the harsh realities immigrants go through in the hope of finding a better, safer life, and it will likely cause them to reflect on what it means to be human,” as Booklist reported.
"The Only Road," which has been recognized with a Pura Belpré Honor, is Alexandra Diaz’s most successful book. Along with her mother, she translated the book into Spanish — "El único destino." Her other books include "Good Girls Don’t Lie" (a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award finalist) and "When We Were" (formerly titled "Of All the Stupid Things," also a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award finalist as well as an ALA Rainbow List book), both for young adults.
The daughter of Cuban refugees, Alexandra Diaz is a native Spanish speaker who currently lives in Santa Fe, NM. She was raised between the U.S. and Bath, England, where she arrived at age 14. As a result of being homeschooled for most of high school, she's fascinated by teenage school life and the drama that occurs in those quarters. She earned an MA in writing for young people from Bath Spa University.
The Crossroads, a sequel to "The Only Road," is coming out Sept. 4. The author explores Jaime’s struggles to integrate in the U.S: overcoming homesickness, finding ways to connect despite a language barrier, and discovering what it means to start over in a new place that alternates between being wonderful and completely unwelcoming.
The Spanish edition, "La encrucijada," will be on sale on Dec. 4.