Share Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

Erin Flaaen is a corporate marketing coordinator at Simon and Schuster. She loves dark stories, devours historical fiction, and still has a soft spot for great YA. (A short list of her favorite authors would include Emma Donoghue—not just for ROOM—Lisa See, George Saunders, David Ebershoff, Jeannette Walls, Shirley Jackson, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, and Libba Bray.) Originally from Arizona, she moved to New York in 2014 and now spends her days being constantly confused by the weather, craving Mexican food, and reading books on buses.

With so many recent news stories coming from the Mexican-American border, I’ve turned to books to learn more about the ongoing crisis and the individuals affected. While immigrant policies have changed rapidly over the past 30 years, these stories, stemming from immigration in the 1980s to the present, are a powerful representation of the trials of Central American immigrants and the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border.


Just Like Us
by Helen Thorpe
This is the true story of four Mexican high school students—two with legal documentation and two without—which begins on the eve of their senior prom in Denver, Colorado. As they attempt to make it into college, their friendships divide along lines of their immigration status, and they face the political storm following the shooting of a police officer by a Mexican immigrant in Denver.
Just Like Us
Helen Thorpe

JUST LIKE US is a powerful account of four young Mexican American women coming of age in Denver. All 4 girls were born in Mexico and have grown up in the United States, but only 2 have documents. Helen Thorpe offers insight into both the most powerful and the most vulnerable members of American society as they grapple with the same dilemma: Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?

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Enrique's Journey
by Sonia Nazario
Enrique's mother left Honduras to work in the United States when he was five years old in order to send money back home to help her young son. At age 16, Enrique sets off on his own, armed only with his mother's phone number, riding the tops of freight trains across Mexico with the hope of crossing the border and finding her. Along the way, he faces the gangsters, bandits, and corrupt cops who rule the train route and threaten the lives of the many migrant children attempting to make their way north. This true story is a detailed representation of the experiences of unaccompanied minors and their journeys to the American border.
Enrique's Journey
Sonia Nazario

MENTIONED IN:

Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

By Erin Flaaen | August 3, 2018

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The Death of Josseline
by Margaret Regan
Reporting from the Arizona border from 2000 to the book's publication in 2010, Margaret Regan explores the people caught in the middle of the immigration debate. From visiting migrants in Mexican shelters to riding along with border patrol agents, Regan explores urgent issues facing the region, including the militarization of the American border, the environmental damage already caused by the existing border walls and fences, the desperation that compels individuals to flee north, and the growing number of unidentified dead in Arizona's morgues.
The Death of Josseline
Margaret Regan

MENTIONED IN:

Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

By Erin Flaaen | August 3, 2018

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The Line Becomes a River
by Francisco Cantú
As a border patrol agent, Francisco Cantú learned to track humans through the desert, hauling in the dead and delivering the living to detention centers. No longer able to face the horrors of his profession, Cantú quit the patrol only to find the border still haunting him when his immigrant friend leaves to visit his dying mother in Mexico and never returns. This personal account imparts the damage violence wreaks on both sides of the border.
The Line Becomes a River
Francisco Cantú

MENTIONED IN:

Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

By Erin Flaaen | August 3, 2018

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The Distance Between Us
by Reyna Grande
Reyna Grande's father left for "El Otro Lado" (The Other Side) to pursue a new life in the United States when she was a small child. Her mother soon followed him, leaving Reyna and her siblings in the overburdened household of their stern grandmother. After her tumultuous early years, Grande makes her own journey across the border to live with her long-absent father. This is a true story of a childhood and family torn between two countries and an intimate look at immigration between Mexico and the United States in the 1980s.

Read the full review of THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US.
The Distance Between Us
Reyna Grande

Funny, heartbreaking, and lyrical, The Distance Between Us poignantly captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.

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The Far Away Brothers
by Lauren Markham
This is a gripping account of two young migrants by the educator and journalist Lauren Markham. When teenager Ernesto Flores ends up on the wrong side of El Salvador's brutal gangs, he and his identical twin brother flee the country, making their way across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, and into the hands of immigration authorities, before eventually joining their older brother in Oakland, California. There they must navigate a new school and a new language while facing their mounting coyote debt and awaiting their day in immigration court. At the same time, the brothers are simply average teenage boys, navigating girls, grades, and Facebook, while leaning on each other for support.
The Far Away Brothers
Lauren Markham

MENTIONED IN:

Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

By Erin Flaaen | August 3, 2018

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The Only Road
by Alexandra Diaz
While this novel was written for children, it is a powerful, accurate, and quick read to understand the gang violence faced by many immigrants who flee their home countries in search of safety in the United States. When 12-year-old Jaime's cousin is killed by gang members in their Guatemalan small town, Jaime sets out on a long journey to live with his older brother in New Mexico. While Jaime is fictional, his circumstances are based on true events.
The Only Road
Alexandra Diaz

MENTIONED IN:

Border Books: 7 Important Immigration Stories From Central America

By Erin Flaaen | August 3, 2018

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