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The Only Road: 06/09/17

The Only Road  by Alexandra Diaz

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz was inspired in part from the author's own experience as a Cuban immigrant, and more recently by an article in Smithsonian Magazine about the flood of children entering the United States unaccompanied.

The blurb for the book would have you believe it's the story of a single boy making the journey all on his own. Not so and shame on the people who approved this blurb. He has a sister, Ángela, who makes the journey with him and is just as brave, strong, and smart as he is.

Maybe the blurb writers didn't want to run afoul of people who remember a thirty-three year old film that is very similar, El Norte, about a brother and sister fleeing to the United States from Guatemala after the government destroys their village in retaliation for their protests. This time, it's not the government. Rather it's the Alphas, a gang who holds power over the village.

El Norte is an adult film. It's dark, violent, and depressing. It's not a romanticization of crossing the border illegally. The Only Road is more hopeful. It's by no means an easy road for Jaime and Ángela but all their sacrifice and peril is rewarded with a happy ending — or perhaps a happy beginning.

The book includes an afterword, glossary, and bibliography broken down by age group. There is also a Spanish language version out now, El unico destino — which is frankly a better title for the book as it implies both the goal of the journey and the urgent need to leave such hostile environment.

Four stars

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