At the age of 14, Francisco Jiménez, together with his older brother, Roberto, and his mother, are caught by la migra. Forced to leave their home, the entire family travels all night for 20 hours by bus, arriving at the U.S. and Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. In the months and years that follow, Francisco, his mother and father, and his seven brothers and sister not only struggle to keep their family together, but also face crushing poverty, long hours of labor, and blatant prejudice.
How they sustain their hope, their goodheartedness, and tenacity is revealed in this moving sequel to The Circuit. Without bitterness or sentimentality, Francisco Jiménez finishes telling the story of his youth.
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- Veronica Halversen
This is a wonderful story about the strong family values and work ethic of Mexican migrants. It brought back memories of grade school friends sorely missed when they had to move on with their family to the next field job. I still wonder about them and wish I could find them. This book is set in the 1960s and the struggles and racism this family experienced, while appalling, seem almost quaint compared to the experience of migrants today. There were moments in the book when I was on the edge of my seat because I expected a very different outcome. In today’s world, if la migra had picked up Francisco they could have shipped him to Nogales without any notice to his parents and dumped him on the border, day or night. There would be no legal option for this family to return to the U.S. Their only option to return would be to risk their lives by illegally crossing the desert on foot. Hundreds die every year on that journey. Given that status, when Francisco’s father accidently sawed off his finger or when his infant sibling needed care, this family would have been extremely reluctant to seek medical help. Francisco might graduate from college with honors but he would never be allowed to actually teach in the U.S. I was touched by the many teachers, employers, and counselors who reached out to this family and am saddened that our society has become so mean spirited that we can’t make room for those who would make such good citizens and good neighbors. I hope that those who are using this text to teach will contrast this family’s experience with our current immigration policies.