Kill, be killed, or flee.
Those are the options for twelve-year-old Jaime and his older teen cousin, Angela. They can join the local gang and terrorize their beloved community. They can refuse and be beaten to death, like Jaime's best friend and Angela's brother, Miguel. Or they can leave everyone they love and everything they know to seek safety in a strange, far-off land.
They choose to leave Guatemala to illegally traverse the extent of Mexico in the hopes of joining Jaime's older brother, Tomas, who has established a life for himself in the United States. It's a harrowing journey filled with constant danger from myriad sources. Many of the traveling companions they meet along the way don't survive.
This is a vivid and moving story.
The Only Road by Alexander Diaz is the touching story of a boy who leaves his home in Guatemala to find a better life in the United States of America. This book highlights the gang induced terror that many people must live with in Central America and the danger of the difficult trip to freedom and safety. The Only Road will truly have you on the edge of your seat as you read the tale of Jaime and his cousin. The author has captured the characters' emotions perfectly so that you will feel their fear, love, loss and bravery. When you finish reading this book you will truly feel as though you have been along on their journey.
- @goldendog of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library
From the opening scene when Jamie learns of his cousin's death for refusing to join the Alpha gang, to the very last page, this action-packed, fast paced read will have you completely drawn into this timely saga of contemporary immigrant hardships and empathizing with the characters' struggles and victories as they attempt to navigate their way from Guatemala and back across the border. Though at times the book can be a bit intense, such as the rail car scenes that nearly parallel the hardships which Jewish Holocaust victims endured on treacherous train rides destined for concentration camps, the sincerity of the characters and how they cope (by drawing their troubles away, for example) will have you cheering them on to a happy ending.
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