This week’s New Title Tuesday, The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú, is timely, humanistic, and at times bucolic and savage. It’s one part whispered confession and one part academic instruction.
The tragedy of The Line Becomes a River is the end of Cantú’s idealism. He learns the insurmountable crime and corruption that cause people to risk their lives and fortunes illegally crossing the border are so complex an embedded in the culture, that change appears impossible. Therefore, nothing will stop migrants from seeking a new and safer life. Whether it’s femicide of the 1990’s that was protected by corrupt and incompetent criminal system or the drug and human trafficking that continue today, those who refuse to participate are murdered and their families put at risk.
So disillusioned and sullied by what he experienced, Cantú had to leave the Patrol after only four years. His hope lost. He told his co-worker,
I had the idea that I’d see things in the patrol that would somehow unlock the border for me, you know? I thought I’d come up with all sorts of answers. And then working here, you see so much, you have all these experiences. But I don’t know how to put it into context, I don’t know where I fit in it all. I have more questions now than ever before.
Most young adults discover things are more gray than they had imagined. It is my hope that Cantú doesn’t give up. It was his connection to the land and the culture that led to this investment. Our country and our world need thinking and feeling individuals who are willing to get down in the trenches to really understand a problem. Cantú came out before all drive is lost – hence this moving and compelling memoir. We need individuals like him who can mine the humanity and compassion necessary to find ways to end the sinister causes of illegal immigration.
Books as tenderly and comprehensively written as The Line Becomes a River are needed to fan the flame of change and growth of peace in places that have not been safe havens for many decades.
Happy and inspiring reading, Susan C.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran – A wrenching emotional battle ensues between Soli, an undocumented Mexican single mother, and Kavya, an Indian-American chef who cannot have children, when Soli’s infant son is placed in Kavya’s care during an immigration detention.
The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan – For nearly a decade, Margaret Regan has reported on the chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants cross into the state in overwhelming numbers, pushed into its dangerous deserts by a U.S. border policy that seals off safer urban crossings. In peak years, Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector catch more than a thousand migrants a day. Arizona also has the highest number of migrant deaths. Set against the dramatic wilderness of mesquites and cacti, where summer temperatures hit 115, Regan’s book tells stories of the people caught up in this international tragedy. Traveling to both sides of the border, she visits migrants stranded in Mexican shelters, rides shotgun with the Border Patrol, camps in the back country with “No More Deaths” activists, and speaks to angry ranchers and vigilantes. Her on-the-ground reportage puts her in the heart of America’s complicated story of immigration.–From publisher description.
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario – Based on the Los Angeles Times series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, this is a timeless story of families torn apart. When Enrique was five, his mother, too poor to feed her children, left Honduras to work in the United States. The move allowed her to send money back home so Enrique could eat better and go to school past the third grade. She promised she would return quickly, but she struggled in America. Without her, he became lonely and troubled. After eleven years, he decided he would go find her. He set off alone, with little more than a slip of paper bearing his mother’s North Carolina telephone number. Without money, he made the dangerous trek up the length of Mexico, clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains. He and other migrants, many of them children, are hunted like animals. To evade bandits and authorities, they must jump onto and off the moving boxcars they call the Train of Death. It is an epic journey, one thousands of children make each year to find their mothers in the United States.–From publisher description.