Rummanah Aasi
Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead.
  Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime fears that he is next. There’s only one choice: accompanied by his cousin Ángela, Jaime must flee his home to live with his older brother in New Mexico.

Review: When his cousin Miguel is killed for refusing to join the Alphas, a notorious gang, Jaime and his cousin Ángela are targeted as the next recruits. With no other way out, their family decides to risk sending them alone to El Norte (i.e. United States) to live with Jaime’s brother, Tomás. The author does not shy away from the perilous journey from Guatemala; Jaime and Ángela face agonizingly real horrors: the fear of being discovered and deported; being locked in the sweltering heat of a rail car; running out of food and water; crossing paths with other even more dangerous gangs; and everything they might face in an unknown country. 
  The Only Road is a candid yet age appropriate tale about the plight of migrants that they may be hearing of from the news. The narrative is fast-paced with many moments accented by danger and uncertainty on Jaime and Ángela's journey. The story also incorporates Spanish words which lends authenticity to the story as well as remind readers that their is a distinction between how Spanish is spoken throughout Latin America. A glossary offers definitions, as well as pronunciation tips, for non-Spanish speakers. Diaz’s closing author’s note reminds readers that immigrants still endure journeys like Jaime and Ángela’s every day. This heartbreaking story will give readers a human face to an issue that is hotly debated in the news.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence in the book, however, it takes place off the page but the consequences and references to the violence are discussed in the book. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: Beast Rider by Tony Johnston 
1 Response
  1. Oh, this sounds like a good one and something that would do well in our local school libraries. I am going to pass on the suggestion to our librarians.

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