Assault rifles, a wild puma, extreme cold, excessive heat, starvation, dehydration, a capture by the Border Patrol and deportation, hundreds of miles of deserts, drug-smuggling thieves, extortioners, a rattlesnake bite-- Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs has all this and more. Girl and boy middle schoolers will be rooting for 15-year-old Victor Flores as he struggles against unbelievable odds to secure one thing: money for his Mexican mother to keep their family goats and chickens.
I would encourage teachers to use this coming-of-age book as a good example of creating a character who faces both internal conflicts (wanting to be the man in the house since his father's death), and external conflicts (see the opening sentence of this blog!). Victor's desire to help his mother propels this book forward; this is a good example of a plot-driven story.
But undoubtably this book will also open readers' eyes to why illegals attempt a dangerous border crossing. Although statistics indicate that arrests at the Mexican border have diminished, the U.S. is still in the midst of many emigration issues and border controversies. This novel, published in 2006, is well-written, timely and in parts, poetic. Consider this line:
"Sorrow sings also when it runs too deep to cry."
Read this book. You won't forget it.