I was so excited to read The Line Becomes a River having heard Cantu's story on This American Life. This firsthand account, from a very well-educated Border Patrol agent, is a compassionate view of the humans on both sides of the wall and their motivations. Even if you've heard all you need to know about immigration and U.S. policy, Cantu's perspective brings you as close as you can get to being there. Recommended By Kim S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
For Francisco Cantu, 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, Cantu 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. Cantu 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, Cantu 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.
“There is a line dividing what we know and do not know. Some see the world from one shore and some from the other. Cantú brings the two together to a spiritual whole. My gratitude for this work of the soul.” Sandra Cisneros
“A must-read for anyone who thinks “build a wall” is the answer to anything.” Esquire
"A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk - and lose - their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective." Phil Klay
About the Author
Francisco Cantú served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in Best American Essays, Harper's, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson.
Francisco Cantú on PowellsBooks.Blog
The Line Becomes a River
is a book about the years I spent working as an agent for the US Border Patrol, and my interior journey toward coming to terms with the violent nature of that work. I became obsessed with the border in college, and had become filled with all of these questions about it...