May 15, 2010

Enrique's Journey

the Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother
by Sonia Nazario

This story follows one young boy from Honduras who made eight attempts to reach his mother in South Carolina, in a harrowing trip mostly on the top of freight trains, over 12,000 miles. He endured hunger and the risk of horrific injury, faced robbers, gangsters and corrupt police intent on thwarting his path or stealing what little he had. All in attempt to find his mother. She had left him in Honduras when he was only five years old, deciding it would be better for him to live with relatives and be well-provided for, than to stay together and continue in abject poverty, unable to afford schooling costs or regular meals. She didn't want to see her children grow up ignorant and digging through the local dump for food. But her son felt abandoned, his loneliness eroding over the years into anger and resentment. When he finally did make it to the US, the family reunion wasn't quite as he'd imagined, the rift during their years of separation had only widened, and troubles continued. Two parts of this book nearly made me cry- seeing how generous some people in poor regions were, giving food, water and clothing to those traveling on the trains, even when they had so little themselves. And reading about how Enrique's family continued to disintegrate even after his journey ended; it was very sad to see that despite the pain he felt from his mother leaving him behind, his girlfriend eventually saw no choice but to leave their own young daughter in Honduras when she came to the US as well. Written by a reporter who visited many of the places Enrique traveled through on his journey, and from interviews with other Latinos- both migrants and those who stayed at home, as well as caseworkers, priests, law enforcers and others involved in the issues, Enrique's Journey is a heartbreaking revelation of all the suffering and agonizing decisions faced by illegal immigrants, particularly those trying to get from poor Central American countries into the United States. It throws a lot of light on the desperation that drives people to attempt the trip, the many who don't make it, the privations felt even by those who do. The story did feel a bit dispassionate to me, written in a clipped, factual style, but the impact was great nonetheless.

I got my copy of this book from The Book Thing (free!) and read it for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge and the 2010 TBR Challenge.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 300 pages, 2006

More opinions at:
Helen's Book Blog
Lotus Reads
Latino Journalism

5 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Wow! I should read this for my Literary Road Trip through South Carolina.

Jenny said...

Wow, sounds pretty awful - not the book, but the subject matter. :(

Literary Feline said...

I saw a movie a couple (?) of years ago about a boy who crossed the border illegally in search of his mother who had come to the U.S. to work. It was a little less brutal than reality probably is, but it was still a heart-wrenching story. I was reminded of the movie as I read your review.

Jeane said...

Bermudaonon- it might be a good pick for that, although S Carolina is really only mentioned a little bit, near the end.

Jenny- it is. I had no idea what kinds of things people suffered trying to get here.

Literary Feline- I wonder if that movie was based on this book? I'd be curious to see it myself- what was the title?

Literary Feline said...

I think the movie was called Under the Same Moon. At least that's the English title.