Journey of the Sparrows

( 2 )

Overview

Nailed into a crate in the back of a truck, fifteen-year-old Maria, her older sister, Julia, their little brother, Oscar, and a boy named Tomas endure a terrifying and torturous journey across the U.S. border and then north to Chicago. There they struggle to find work-cleaning, sewing, washing dishes-always fearful of arrest and deportation back to the cruelties of El Salvador. By turns heartbreaking and hopeful, this moving story of the secret lives of immigrants is not to be ...

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Overview

Nailed into a crate in the back of a truck, fifteen-year-old Maria, her older sister, Julia, their little brother, Oscar, and a boy named Tomas endure a terrifying and torturous journey across the U.S. border and then north to Chicago. There they struggle to find work-cleaning, sewing, washing dishes-always fearful of arrest and deportation back to the cruelties of El Salvador. By turns heartbreaking and hopeful, this moving story of the secret lives of immigrants is not to be missed.

A gripping, lyrical portrayal of a continuing American dilemma." (Kirkus Reviews, pointer review)

Maria and her brother and sister, Salvadoran refugees, are smuggled into the United States in crates and try to eke out a living in Chicago with the help of a sympathetic family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Maria , her brother and sister arrive in the U.S. from El Salvador, jammed inside a nailed crate. Having left their mother and baby sister in Mexico, they are ready to take up the twilight existence of the illegal alien in Chicago. Maria and her siblings not only face extradition if caught, but nearly certain death if returned to their homeland. Sister Julia is pregnant, and it falls to Maria to learn English, look for work and find food for her family. In retelling the plight of Central American refugees, Buss, with the assistance of Cubias, a poet and activist from El Salvador, delicately avoids the obvious and didactic pitfalls in describing this all-too-common problem. By not dwelling on the brutality of the Guardias in El Salvador (who killed Maria's father and Julia's husband) and the numbing details of poverty, she makes this a surprisingly entertaining and hopeful story. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Maria, her older sister Julia, and small brother, Oscar, are illegal aliens, having been smuggled into the U. S. nailed in crates and shipped in the back of a coyote's truck. They are Salvadorans from a peasant village whose men have been openly murdered or ``disappeared.'' Their ordeal presages an almost unrelentingly bleak existence, living in poverty on the margins of norteamericano culture in wintertime Chicago. Small events brighten their lives: a friend buys Maria a pack of colored pens with which she creates pictures that she sells for tiny sums; a kind priest gives her a job cleaning his church. The climactic moment arrives when Maria must make a dangerous return trip to Mexico to get her baby sister, left in the care of friends along the way. The theme is indeed a strong one, and characterization suffers under its weight. In spite of the many tragedies these children face, they never really come to life. Thus, while readers will admire Maria's spirit, they are likely to feel detached from her anguish. Buss makes heavy use of symbolism: of birds flying free or guiding followers to safety; of colors, the bright clothes of the Indians, the green feathers of the quetzal; and of the many religious images. The icons of the various virgins that Maria sees are colorful and benign, but cold. The power of events in her life nearly overwhelm her, but a thread of hope, very thin, nevertheless pulls her onward. A worthwhile book, but one that is not totally successful at drawing readers into the world of its characters. --Ruth Semrau, Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142302095
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 217,292
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2004

    Journey of the Sparrows rocks!!

    Journey of the Sparrows is a great book. Julia, Oscar and Maria really go through a lot in this book. I loved it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2004

    Journey of the Sparrows

    This is a good book. It shows the fears immigrants had to face when they came illegall. Maria and her sister Julia and her brother Oscar show great faith and courage in this good book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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