Monday, January 22, 2007

La Linea

Jaramillo, Ann. 2006. LA LINEA. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 1596431547 [Suggested Grade Levels 7 and up]

Miguel lives in a small village in Mexico with his younger sister Elena and his grandmother. His parents, whom he has not seen in six years, live in the United States. Always hoping to join them, Miguel is thrilled on his fifteenth birthday to receive money and instructions from his father so he can join them illegally. However, as Miguel leaves his village, he is surprised and angered to discover his sister following in disguise. Unable to convince Elena to return to the village, the two set out on a journey that will change their lives forever. Miguel and Elena face numerous obstacles as they make their way north. After being robbed they are forced to hitch a ride on the roof of the mata gente or “people killer” train before trekking through the treacherous desert.

Jaramillo has written a realistic adventure novel that will resonate with young people whose family members have sacrificed themselves for a better life in the U. S. or who themselves have endured such a journey. This gripping novel deals with a subject few children’s authors have tackled. A sprinkling of Spanish terms authenticates the story as does the love-hate brother-sister relationship. An author’s note about the book is appended.

Invite readers to compare/contrast the immigrant experience described in this book with the immigrant experience of those traveling to America in the 1800s. Readers in schools with high immigrant populations may want to create journals of their personal immigration experiences.

Other books about young Latinos and their immigrant experiences:
Buss, Fran Leeper. JOURNEY OF THE SPARROWS. ISBN 0142302090
Mikaelson, Ben. RED MIDNIGHT. ISBN 0380977451

By S. Zulema Bewley

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