The Only Roadby Alexandra Diaz

Published October 4th 2016 by Paula Wiseman Books / Simon & Schuster

5 Stars

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous and life-changing journey from his home in Guatemala to live with his older brother in the United States in this gripping and realistic middle grade novel.

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.

Inspired by true events, The Only Road is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life. It is a story of fear and bravery, love and loss, strangers becoming family, and one boy’s treacherous and life-changing journey.

My Review: According to the description of the book from the publisher: Inspired by true events, The Only Road is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life. It is a story of fear and bravery, love and loss, strangers becoming family, and one boy’s treacherous and life-changing journey.

I had so many emotions run through me as I read this book. Right now as we are dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis in Canada, reading this book at this time made it seem so much more real. The dangers many refugees and illegal immigrants face trying to come to a country where they can feel safe are mind boggling.

In this story it is two children (12 and 15) travelling alone with only names, maps, information and money sewn into their clothes that take the treacherous journey from Guatemala to the U.S. When Angela’s brother and Jamie’s cousin Miguel is killed by the local gang because he refused to join them, the family believes the only way to keep Angela and Jamie safe is to get them away from Guatemala. Tomas, Jaimie’s brother, lives in New Mexico, so that is their destination. The journey is dangerous, but they go anyway. They meet other children on the way and they become friends. They rescue a dog, near death from the dog fights and nurse her back to life. They work sewing and drawing portraits to earn even more money to get safe passage across the border. Unfortunately, out of the small group of five children travelling together, they are the only ones to make it. We so not find out exactly what happens to the others, but from what is happening in the story, we can imagine. This journey took courage, guts, a little naivite and luck to get to their final destination. Many try and do not make it, many try multiple times, many disappear or are killed. A very hard story to read.

This book should be read by all students to help them understand the plight of refugees and immigrants. It should also give them an appreciation of what they have and how they live. Thank-you to Paula Wiseman Books / Simon & Schuster for generously providing me a copy of this book to read. It is one that will be with me for a while.

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