sun dried out their eyes during the day, how their hearts poinded when they threw their bodies to the ground, hiding from la migra. I imagined them pressing their cheeks against the dust, thinking about the happy lives they would have if
only they reached the end of the desert."
Sophie and her family live in Tuscon. Although Juan, her step father, no longer helps people crossing the border due to the fear of punishment, in the past he was a frequent stop for immigrants who have just illegally crossed and are in need of water, food, and shelter before they can continue their journey. Somehow his business card gets into the pocket of a 6 year old boy who was crossing the desert with his parents. Everyone died except the boy. The boy won't speak and so the border patrol takes him into custody. Because of Juan's business card being in the boy's pocket it seems like a sign that Sophie and her family should take custody of the boy and so they do. This sets into motion a chain of events that will change Sophie's life forever.
Sophie has always been phobic. She suffered from terrible allergies as a child and it has clouded her outlook on life. She's withdrawn from life because of her fears. Her fears of germs, new things, her shyness all serve to alienate her. And then she's asked if she'll go on a road trip to reunite Pablo (the boy from the desert) with his family in Mexico. It is a journey that is bittersweet from the beginning. Everyone has fallen in love with Pablo and wish him to remain in the U.S. with them, but they feel that he should have the option of living with his family in Mexico. And so Dika (her Bosnian great aunt), Mr. Lorenzo (Dika's boyfriend), Angel (Mr. Lorenzo's son), and Pablo (the boy from the desert) all pile into a van and travel to Mexico to reunite Pablo with his family.
This book...I don't even know how to write about how much I loved this book. It's a book about immigration, about survival, about opening your heart, taking risks, and family - the kind with blood ties and the ones that we create along the way. I fell in love with every single character. Seriously, every character is so perfectly written I don't think I could pick a favorite. There is Dika, who has survived a war zone in Bosnia and has a larger than life personality. There is Mr. Lorenzo, also a survivor of war who immigrated illegally with his son to escape violence in Guatamala. There is Nola, Pablo's great grandmother who just lies down wherever she feels like and takes a nap (although never in the middle of the road. anymore). There is Angel, the boy Sophie is willing to take unprecidented risks for. It is beautifully written, the characters are all well developed, there is personal growth, not only for our main character. Everyone changes, grows, evolves. Just like real life. I can't recommend this book enough.