GoodReads Summary: A ripped-from-the-headlines novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pulga has his dreams.
Chico has his grief.
Pequeña has her pride.
And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home.
Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life–if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.
In this powerful story inspired by current events, the plight of migrants at the U.S. southern border is brought to painful, poignant, vivid life. An epic journey of danger, resilience, heartache, and hope.
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Young Readers Group for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.
I’ve only ever thought of the U.S. as my home. My parents are from Mexico and El Salvador but my mom came here when she was a toddler. My dad remembers El Salvador as he came here when he was older. I read books like this one not only to learn but also to reflect and really think about the privilege that I have being born in the U.S., having parents who speak English, and having parents who became U.S. citizens when I was a kid. I do not know the experience of migrants from any country, I know my parents experience and even that I find limited. The only way for me to learn more is through listening to others and it is important that I stop and listen.
Overall Thoughts: I really enjoy how Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are keeping secrets from each other and their family. What i liked about their secrets is that the same person is at the root of these secrets and all of their problems.
Something else that I like about this book is the pacing and how long these days seem. I think that as you read you get a sense of how long this time feels for the characters as they live these things.
I think that it is important that this book shows the reality of immigration and the many challenges that come with it. It was important to see three different scenarios as to what can happen throughout that journey and they included the addition of Pequena being female and what that meant for her. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I felt that so much of that is impactful and important to think about when we hear stories of immigration. I thought it was important that it also relayed the reasons why people were fleeing their countries and what kept them moving forward.
Part One: This book starts off with introducing you to the three main characters of this story. It does this by going back and forth between Pulga and Pequena’s point of view. In this portion of the book you find out a little about each character’s circumstances and why they need to leave their home town.
I really like how this book slowly introduces you to the characters and builds their back story. I like that you get to see the relationships that they have with each other and with people they are leaving behind.
Part Two: This part tells the majority of these kids story as they go from Guatemala to Mexico. This tells of the people they encounter and the things they do for a chance to get to the United States. Through this section you see more about each character and learn their fears about staying or leaving the place they live in.
I kept reading about La Bestia in this book and never really looked into it until I asked my mom about it. She searched it on Google and then spoke to me about a news segment she saw I n which this train was covered. I thought it was important to look into this and see what the reality is for people trying to migrate into the United States.
I have heard both my mom and dad’s story of how they got to the United States and they have very different stories from each other. Fascinating and interesting aren’t the right words but I do think it is important to see the differences in ways immigrants come to the United States. I thought it was good to reflect and think about my privilege in being born in the U.S and never having to really fear being sent to a place where my life was in danger.
I really like how each scene is described and how you can feel the characters emotion coming through each word. I like how you are still learning about the ties they have to the place they are trying to escape.
Part Three: This is where the tears begin and everything gets even more emotional if that’s even possible. I don’t want to include too many details as that would make this spoilery.
I enjoy how you get to see each scene play out as these kids get further in their journey to the U.S. I thought it was good to see the reality of these trips and how dangerous it can get for everyone. There were moments in which I stopped to take everything in and to read real people’s immigration stories as I had not done that in the past.
The only stories I really know are the ones in books or my parent’s stories but even they say that they had it a lot easier. I think its important to listen and learn about the range of immigration stories people have and how coming from different places differs.
Part Four: I think its important that we see this kids never being allowed to grieve. There is no time for them to mourn anything they leave behind and this shows the dangers if they were to give themselves that space. I think it was important to note all of Pulga’s contradicting feelings and the blame he places on himself. I thought it was important to give him the space to mourn his loses in the privacy of his thoughts and how that showed him becoming a different person to those around him, especially Pequena.
I also like how you can feel their pain through each moment in this section of the book. I thought it was important that each minute seemed to drag on just as their days were going on forever.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good book to read. Be prepared for tears though.
You can get this book at Eso Won books or look for it at your local library.