Book Reviews

Book Review: La Línea by Ann Jaramillo

This book review is going to be a little different. I will review the book La Línea, but I will also offer a few other readalikes. Who doesn’t love readalikes!? 🙂

la lineaThe Review: In La Línea, Miguel leaves on a journey across the border to America, but little does he know his sister, Elena, follows him. The two encounter trying times throughout their adventure. Miguel, on the bus to the border, discovers his sister has stowed away. They are discovered by the Mexican Federales and sent back to central Mexico—all the money they had to pay for their passage across the border has been stolen. With no money, they must hitch a dangerous and deadly ride atop a freight train followed by a two-day trek across the desert before they are finally reunited with their family.

La Línea is a thrill! It keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat until the very end without sacrificing character or setting development. The novel incorporates the Spanish language beautifully without the need for a Spanish-English dictionary on hand. This is Ann Jaramillo’s first book, but she comes off as a seasoned writer. She is able to create vivid scenes with her words and maintains a sense of consistency throughout.

Ann works with Hispanic students in California, some of whom inspired La Línea. She did not experience anything like what the main characters experienced, but has learned from the experiences of her students. Those experiences help to make this novel culturally authentic. Ann’s motive for crafting this novel was to create a piece of work that would reflect the lives and experiences of the students she works with. I believe that this book has accomplished her motive.

Audience: This audience for this book would be ages 9 and up. The novel keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat and is very fast paced which is acceptable for grades 5 and up. Younger audiences may struggle with some of the intertwined Spanish vocabulary and the concept of danger.

Personal Reaction: This book was great in how quickly I was able to read it. It was short and not too challenging while still covering some pretty tough concepts, like: danger, riding atop trains, hiring a “coyote” to help cross the border, coming to America, reuniting with family, and so on. **WARNING: SPOILERS** I did not, however; enjoy the ending of this particular novel.  The two endured so much in order to reunite with their family, but there was no mention of any heart-felt reunion. It was a bit of a let-down. In the epilogue, we found out that Miguel graduated from college and Elena went back to Mexico. This left me flabbergasted. After everything Elena went though in the novel to get to the United States…she decides to return to Mexico!? Besides wanting a more satisfying ending, I did enjoy the majority of the novel, hence my recommendation here.

Themes: Courage, family, coming of age, poverty, enduring trying times in order to attain ones dreams, reunion

If Mexican Immigration stories appeal to you, try out these other great reads:

  1. Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
  2. Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
  3. Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
  4. We Were Here by Matt de la Peña

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