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Book Title: Senderos Fronterizos|
The author of the book: Francisco Jiménez
Date of issue: September 1st 2002
ISBN 13: 9780613607841
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 338 KB
Edition: Turtleback Books
Read full description of the books Senderos Fronterizos:I purchased a classroom set of this book prior to reading it. What relief to find that I did not make a huge and expensive mistake. The story is clear and simply written. The authenticity of the writer's voice is the strength of the story.
What captivated me as a reader was Jimenez' ability to bring honesty to a difficult relationship with his father and a challenging up bringing with such sensitivity to the people who experienced it with him. In particular, I was moved by the way he described his father.
With such subtly and compassion, he shows how his father's hopes are diminished by a system of poverty and discrimination that eat away at his hope. In turn, he takes out his crushing defeat on those he loves the most, his family. Jimenez shows the reader the realities of living in such a space, but he does this without demonizing those who suffer the greatest under its restraints. I respected his ability to bring about these complexities with such humanity.
Jimenez demonstrates a level of trust in his reader. He does not become didactic or ideological in his telling of the story. (Something I have found in many stories that deal with issues of poverty, discrimination and racism.) Instead, he shares his experiences outright. This storytelling style provided me with the space to receive the story without feeling defensive or apologetic. Rather, I felt able to travel through time and space open to share in Jimenez' experiences as a desperate young man.
I longed for and agonized over each success Pancho achieved. I worried. "How long would "this" last?" "At what point would the reality of being an undocumented, migrant, farmhand consume Francisco?" I could only imagine how it must have been for the young Jimenez.
The story is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Jimenez speaks to possibility against all odds. However, despite my sense of joyous celebration felt for Jimenez, I left he story recognizing that his memoir is amazing because it is so uncommon. 15% of migrant workers in the U.S. graduate from high school. Most begin working around the age of 12 and continue to work to help support their families. The majority of those engaged in such work live well below the poverty line. I am not sharing statistics from the 1940s and 50s (the time in which the story takes place). I am sharing statistics from the last two decades.
Jimenez is rare. His determination paid off. In part, due to the support of those around him. I fear, the reader would be engaging in a very different kind of story if even the slightest wind had blown in a different direction.
It is hard not to consider the outcome if he had worked with a different school counselor. What if his father failed to secure a green card for him? What if the family could not find money and he was forced back into the fields full time? His success was tenuous. I have seen first hand how one small shift can change everything.
I did not leave this book with the sense that the "American dream" can be realized if one works hard, prays hard and has hope. I have seen too many people cling to all three, only to live a life much like that of Francisco's father. I left the book wondering about the people Jimenez left behind. I found myself consumed with the fate of his siblings and parents. I then I started to consider those today, who face a similar struggle.
I worry that a reader may leave the book believing that "breaking through" is only a matter of determination. Sadly, I have seen people with extraordinary determination battle against the inhumanity Jimenez and his family faced, only to be crushed by its unforgiving realities. I leave the story questioning how to get more "breaking through".
Read information about the authorFrancisco Jimenez emigrated from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to California, where he worked for many years in the fields with his family. He received both his master's degree and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is now chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Through, La Mariposa, and his newest memoir, Reaching Out. He lives in Santa Clara, California, with his family.
Author photo courtesy of Santa Clara University.
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