2.09.2008

Reading Life 23


La Línea by Ann Jaramillo
I don't get it, how this book didn't get the Belpré nod for writing (this one, or Soto's Mercy). Though it deals with a oft-dealt with subject (that of illegal immigration into the States), the story is way different in that for the first time in a book that treats this timely topic; instead of highlighting the horrors handed out to immigrants by Border Patrol agents, the Minute Men and other like-minded militia, or other "hateful" Americans, Jaramillo presents the dangers faced by travelers northward at the hands of fellow Mexicans: there are train gangs who seek out girls aboard the mata gente trains, the federales who cheat and steal from their own, and others who physically assault and threaten with rape if they don't get money from those wanting nothing more than a place to sleep. The majority of the story takes place in Mexico, and though Moises, the coyote (who turns out to be a good guy and not the mean-spirited monster who would abandon his charges in the middle of the desert or locked in the back of an 18-wheeled trailer) does get shot in the arm by a militia member in the desert, and though the brief time in the desert does take a toll (often ending in a miserable death), the getting to south of the linea, the border, is the harshest ever presented in YA fiction. There is nothing magical, fantastical, or romanticized about this book, with the exception of the ending, which is a bit Hollywoodish for my tastes, but still, possible. I didn't have to suspend too much in that regard. Please, even an honor for a good book.

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