Enrique’s Journey / Sonia Nazario

In Enrique’s Journey, journalist Sonia Nazario traces the true journey of a teenage Honduran boy who travels from his home country to find his mother in the United States.  Eleven years before, as a single mother, she had left her two children in the care of her family and gone to find work in North America.  At the time, it was the only thing she could do to ensure that her children would be fed and receive an education.  When Enrique turns seventeen, desiring to be reunited with his mother, he decides to join her in the United States.  Leaving Tegucigalpa in Honduras, he crosses Guatemala and all of Mexico, and finally finds a way to cross the border into Texas.  This involves travel by train, not as a paying passenger, but by clinging to the sides and tops of freight cars.   The dangers are numerous:  many who make the trip lose legs or their lives in falls under the wheels.  Also waiting along the way are corrupt police officials and gang members seeking to beat or rob the travelers.  After failing in his first few attempts, Enrique finally succeeds.  But not before he is severely beaten and nearly dies.  Although he does locate his mother, the years apart have made them strangers.  This book was published in 2006, at the height of the wave of illegal immigrants entering the United States.  Since that time, the number of people attempting such a perilous journey has dropped considerably.  Nonetheless, the dangers of making such a trip from Central America remain.  While Nazario succeeds in conveying the risks an immigrant faces, she does not address what it will take to keep families together in their home countries.  What goes unstated is the need to deal with poverty on a local level.  The risks Enrique faced are too great for any teenager to have to brave.

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