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Non 1001 Book Review: The Line Becomes a River Francisco Cantú

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The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]
Find it here: [jen will add amazon link]

A timely look at the immigration situation between Mexico and the USA.

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.

Bookworm’s Thoughts: Living in the UK I know very little about the immigration situation between Mexico and the USA, we hear on the news about drug cartels, people smuggling and the criminal side of crossing the border, what we don’t hear is the human side of things and how this invisible line in the desert prevents those who want a better life for them and their families from achieving that aim.

I like the fact that Cantú himself worked as a border patrol agent not because he wanted to prevent immigration but because he wanted to understand it. As a second generation Mexican-American his identity lies both sides of the border. Cantú starts out as an idealist thinking that by patrolling the border he can come up with a solution to the problem of illegal immigration and drug smuggling, he soon learns that there is no easy fix to these problems, he also learns that as well as being statistics the people who cross the border are also individuals with their own hopes, dreams and desires. It appears to him that the drug smugglers are the exceptions and not the rule.

Plagued by nightmares of the human devastation he encounters while out on border patrol he leaves it behind him to continue his education and it is while working  in a coffee shop that he encounters Jose an illegal immigrant who has been living and working in the USA for 30 years. Jose is a valued member of his community he has 3 sons who are US citizens but his decision to return to Mexico to see his mother before she dies firmly places him in the spotlight as an illegal immigrant. Cantú becomes caught up in Jose’s struggles to return to his family in the US and finally sees what actually happens to the immigrants caught by the border patrol and how the justice system deals with them.

This is a compassionate book that looks at the human side of immigration both from the impact dealing with those who don’t survive has on the people who patrol  the border and from the various reasons people seek to cross the border and how normal people can be drawn into drug smuggling if the cartels who control the border crossing leave them no other option.

Cantú doesn’t have a solution to this problem and he is honest enough to say so, while there is a political message about the way immigration is handled this is not a political book it is a human book designed to show the reader the people behind the statistics and it does that very well.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about the Mexico – USA border and the immigration situation.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: [Jen will add amazon link]

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gail #

    I am adding to my To Read list. It sounds quite like a necessary read for anyone living in the US

    Liked by 1 person

    November 18, 2018

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