Enrique's Journey

by Sonia Nazario | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 0812971787 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingAzukiwing of Miami, Florida USA on 3/25/2011
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingAzukiwing from Miami, Florida USA on Friday, March 25, 2011
Nazario's account of a 17-year-old boy's harrowing attempt to find his mother in America won two Pulitzer Prizes when it first came out in the Los Angeles Times. Greatly expanded with fresh research, the story also makes a gripping book, one that viscerally conveys the experience of illegal immigration from Central America.

Enrique's mother, Lourdes, left him in Honduras when he was five years old because she could barely afford to feed him and his sister, much less send them to school. Her plan was to sneak into the United States for a few years, work hard, send and save money, then move back to Honduras to be with her children. But 12 years later, she was still living in the U.S. and wiring money home. That's when Enrique became one of the thousands of children and teens who try to enter the U.S. illegally each year. Riding on the tops of freight trains through Mexico, these young migrants are preyed upon by gangsters and corrupt government officials. Many of them are mutilated by the journey; some go crazy. The breadth and depth of Nazario's research into this phenomenon is astounding, and she has crafted her findings into a story that is at once moving and polemical.

The title of the book reminds me of a childhood cartoon favorite, Marco of the Pampas (Marco de los Apeninos a los Andes), about a little boy who traveled thousands of miles to find his mother, who left home to work. I guess that's partly why I want to read this book.

Journal Entry 2 by wingAzukiwing at Miami, Florida USA on Monday, October 31, 2011
I read this for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon.

Really enjoyed Enrique's Journey, about a Honduran boy's journey to find his mother, who left him eleven years ago to work in the U.S. There are parts that move me to tears.

The hardship he and other immigrants faced saddens me: they are robbed, beaten and raped by gangsters and polices alike, and many were mangled or even killed as they ride on the top of the train, or try scrambling aboard a moving one. Equally sad is how the mothers, out of desperation, have to leave their children behind to work illegally in the U.S. As they care for someone else's children, they remember their own left behind. They are often abused and taken advantage of. Meanwhile, the children grow up wondering when their mother abandons them, and the toys and money sent is no replacement for a mother's hug. Many children turn wayward due to lack of care or as rebellion. It seems like a lose-lose situation, yet the tragedy is repeated over and over.

The bright spot of the book is when the migrants pass through Oaxaca, Mexico. The people there, by no means wealthy, will greet a train as it comes by and throw food, drinks, blankets and clothes up to the hungry and thirsty migrants atop the train. Those with food, give food; those without, give bottles of water; those without, offer a prayer.

"If I have one tortilla, I give half away. I know God will bring me more."

"God says, when I saw you naked, I clothed you. When I saw your hungry, I gave you food. This is what God teaches," said the food throwers. They know the horror as some of their own struggled to reach the U.S. and they know the hardship is worse for those from Central America.

"If we don't want to be stopped from going into the U.S., how can we stop Central Americans in our country?"

Then there is story of a volunteer, who uses her money to buy blood (yes, blood) and medicine to help the sick and injured migrants.

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