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Crossing the Wire cover book

Crossing the Wire, by Will Hobbs; HarperCollins
Publishers: New York, 2006; $16.99

When his father died years ago trying to cross the Arizona border, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores dropped out of school and started to plant corn to support his mother and five younger siblings. After he gradually came out of the grief of his father’s death, more problems came up for Victor. Nobody bought Mexican corn anymore, because American corn planted with chemical fertilizers and pesticides was much more affordable.

One day Victor realized, if he continued to plant corn his family would have to starve. He decided to risk his life and cross the Mexican border and go to the United States like the other men in his village.

His journey was extremely precarious and deadly. Victor experienced a lot of things that he had never imagined before. First, he broke his scalp by jumping off a dashing train. Then he experienced starvation, running out of food in the middle of the desert. His guide that he met got caught by border patrol. Surprisingly, Victor met his best friend in a soup kitchen, Rico, who left for El Norte several weeks before him. Victor even carried drugs for the drug smugglers without knowing it. And worst of all, he experienced walking for hours and hours under the blazing sun— chapped lips, dried mouth, completely dehydrated, his throat felt like it was on fire when he had to swallow. After eleven weeks, everything was worth it, he finally crossed and found a job.

This book completely reversed my opinion on illegal immigrants. Before I read this book, I thought that, while the legal immigrants, like my parents, came to the U.S. as college students and waited for ten years to get a green card, the illegal immigrants did not go through the process of naturalization and it was effortless for them to get to the United States. In my head, I imagined that all they had to do was to run for a couple of hours and BAM! they are in the U.S.

After reading this book, I felt ashamed and apologetic for what I had thought before. Nobody wants to leave their family and go to a completely unfamiliar country that they have never been to before. Like Victor, he did not want to come to the United States, but there was a burden on his back, to support his family. Also, the journey was deadly. People cannot imagine how many people died on their journey trying to cross the border. People have died because of starvation, some ran out of water, some died because of the heat, and some were even shot by border patrol. Only a few of the determined and the fortunate people have succeeded.

Although the journey was hard, that does not mean it is not the right thing to do. From this book, I learned to see the world with other people’s eyes.

After reading this book, I also truly felt sympathetic for people like Victor in real life. At the same time, I also learned to be thankful and to treasure the smallest things beside me, like going to school legally, not worrying about being deported, and having the ability to communicate with others using English.

Crossing the Wire is a breathtaking book. I loved the characters and the story. This book is full of exciting adventures. I finished the book in just two days. Crossing the Wire is one of my favorite books and I hope you can read it too!

Crossing the Wire Sarah Gu
Sarah Gu, 13
McLean, Virginia