- Used Books
- Kobo eReading
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Enrique's Journeyby Sonia Nazario
Synopses & Reviews
In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.
When Enrique is five years old, his mother, Lourdes, too poor to feed her children, leaves Honduras to work in the United States. The move allows her to send money back home to Enrique so he can eat better and go to school past the third grade.
Lourdes promises Enrique she will return quickly. But she struggles in America. Years pass. He begs for his mother to come back. Without her, he becomes lonely and troubled. When she calls, Lourdes tells him to be patient. Enrique despairs of ever seeing her again. After eleven years apart, he decides he will go find her.
Enrique sets off alone from Tegucigalpa, with little more than a slip of paper bearing his mothers North Carolina telephone number. Without money, he will make the dangerous and illegal trek up the length of Mexico the only way he can-clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains.
With gritty determination and a deep longing to be by his mothers side, Enrique travels through hostile, unknown worlds. Each step of the way through Mexico, he and other migrants, many of them children, are hunted like animals. Gangsters control the tops of the trains. Bandits rob and kill migrants up and down the tracks. Corrupt cops all along the route are out to fleece and deport them. To evade Mexican police and immigration authorities, they must jump onto and off the moving boxcars they call El Tren de la Muerte-The Train of Death. Enrique pushes forward using his wit, courage, and hope-and the kindness of strangers. It is an epic journey, one thousands of immigrant children make each year to find their mothers in the United States.
Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, Enriques Journey is the timeless story of families torn apart, the yearning to be together again, and a boy who will risk his life to find the mother he loves.
"Joseph Campbell would recognize 'Enrique's Journey.' It's the stuff of myth. A lone child embarks on a terrible journey through a landscape of monsters and villains. His goal is noble, almost chivalric — he travels through hardship and dangers to find his mother, lost in the far mysteries of the north. To add another layer to the story, it contains a vehicle right out of a fairy tale: a Fury-haunted... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) freight train known as El Tren de la Muerte — the Train of Death. Sonia Nazario, however, is not writing myths: 'Enrique's Journey' is true. The story begins in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where Enrique's mother, Lourdes, supported several children by selling tortillas and gum on the street. It was a small step up from begging or picking garbage to live. One day, Lourdes saw visions of Las Vegas on a customer's television screen. It was a revelation — she could risk everything and try to earn enough money to save her children from grinding poverty. But to do so, she had to leave them behind, like thousands of mothers before her. And like thousands of those mothers' children, when Enrique's sorrow grew too great to bear, he followed her north. When his mother left, Enrique was 5 years old. He made his own journey 11 years later. Told in an immediate, sometimes flashy, present tense, the story clacks along, seeming to accelerate as we read. The details of the journey are at turns astounding and wearying, ghastly and lyrical. Nazario has tried to pace the book like a good novel, with climaxes building in force and dread the farther Enrique travels — and the closer he gets to the United States. One knows the whole time that his trouble will really start only when he reaches the border. Just 16, Enrique clambered aboard the first train out of Tegucigalpa. It carried him into a Latino hell as blood-red as those found in Cormac McCarthy's fever dreams. He was immediately assaulted by violent men who fashioned a noose from a coat sleeve and tried to lynch him, then beat him and threw him from the train. Bloody and ill, he staggered barefoot down the rails, falling into the hands of hard people who offered no succor. The surreal absurdity of the Third World seemed to be trying to eat him alive. The grim details accrue. 'In Las Anonas, the Red Cross retrieves a seventeen-year-old Honduran boy who lost his left leg,' writes Nazario. 'They pick up three immigrants mutilated by the train in as many days. One loses a leg, another his hand; the third has been cut in half. Sometimes the ambulance workers must pry a flattened hand or leg off the rails to move the migrant.' Enrique thought things were bad at home, but he could never have imagined a journey like this. When Enrique asked one rancher for a drink, he was told, 'Get lost.' If the riders were not careful atop the train, even in sleep, low branches could snag them and catapult them to their dooms. How does Nazario know all this? In 2000, she received a phone call from a humanitarian group tending to incarcerated, undocumented entrants. She met Enrique in Nuevo Laredo and spent the next two weeks listening to his story. She traveled to Tegucigalpa, boarding the same train and repeating Enrique's journey so she could experience what he had. And yet, despite what must have been a harrowing trip of her own, Nazario keeps the focus on Enrique, a microcosm of the massive exodus pouring over the borders of our nations — plural. Enrique's journey, after all, is not simply a story of 'illegal immigration' into the United States; he first illegally entered Mexico through its southern border. Mexico is even less willing to harbor these desperate Central Americans than we are. Enrique's suffering and bravery become universal, and one cannot fail to be moved by the desperation and sheer strength of spirit that guides these lonely wanderers into the night-lands. Of course, the border will continue to trouble the dreams of anyone who is paying attention. Nazario points out, rightly, that the median age of the lone traveler is dropping. The face of illegal immigration shifts constantly: Now that all the men are gone, as some villagers joke in Mexico, the women have followed. Nazario writes in her preface: 'Each year, an estimated 700,000 immigrants enter the United States illegally. Since 2000, nearly a million additional immigrants annually, on average, have arrived legally, or become legal residents. ... In recent decades, the increase in divorce and family disintegration in Latin America has left many single mothers without the means to feed and raise their children.' No one knows the exact number of mothers coming north without their children, but a University of Southern California study shows that 82 percent of nannies and one in four housecleaners are women with children left alone in their home countries. And now that these mothers have come north, their children are following. It is now common to find 15-year-old walkers caught in the border patrol nets. But this is a catch-and-release sport, and these fingerlings are tossed back into the bigger pond of Mexico to try their migration again. Why is this allowed to happen? The undocumented worker can be hired for wages far lower than the American worker; moreover, their presence tends to depress the minimum wage. They lower production costs, they serve as union busters, they save money in terms of benefits, and they are a pliant and compliant work force. The paradigm has shifted from under-the-table cash payments to formalized employment. Any border patrol agent can explain to you how money withheld from the undocumented worker's paycheck pours into state and federal coffers. For example, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, illegal workers donate $6.4 billion annually to Social Security. But these illegal workers will never collect benefits from that program. On the other side of the tattered fence, the Mexican government appreciates the stunning $17 billion in remittance money — money sent home from that maid who cleaned your house, that fast-food cook who salted your fries — that arrives each year. Why does the problem continue? Follow the money. Everybody wins — except the abandoned children. Who can blame them for trying to save themselves the only way they've been shown? The U.S. government's slipshod attempts to bolster security at the borders have made the passage more deadly. In the madness of the harsher border, drug lords and gangsters rule the day. Any border patrol agent will tell you that criminal elements are on the rise — as are violence and the terrible toll of deaths due to heat, cold, misadventure and homicide. The death train is running all night, and it makes stops in Tegucigalpa, Mexico City, Juarez, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. It would be unfair to spoil the end of the adventure. But it is safe to say that 'Enrique's Journey' is among the best border books yet written. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Los Angeles Times, it is a stirring and troubling book about a magnificent journey undertaken by a lone boy in a terrible, terrible place. It's not about invading the United States or stealing social services or jobs from American workers. 'Enrique's Journey' is about love. It's about family. It's about home. Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of 'The Devil's Highway' and 'The Hummingbird's Daughter.'" Reviewed by Luis Alberto Urrea, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
A "Los Angeles Times" journalist offers her 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning story in book form--a timely account of a young Honduran boy's perilous quest to reunite with his mother in the United States. Includes 16-page color photo insert. Young Adult.
About the Author
Sonia Nazario, a projects reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has spent more than two decades reporting and writing about social issues, earning her dozens of national awards. The newspaper series upon which this book is based won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, the George Polk Award for International Reporting, and the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. Nazario grew up in Kansas and Argentina. She is a graduate of Williams College and has a masters degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. For more information, visit www.enriquesjourney.com.
To schedule a speaking engagement, please contact American Program Bureau at www.apbspeakers.com
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like