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Multicultural ReviewThe closing of easier routes through California has driven migrants to the United States from Mexico and Central America to make a dangerous crossing through the Arizona desert. One wrong turn can lead to dying of thirst; one false step can lead to a deadly snake or scorpion bite.
Limon, the author of several other novels set in Mexico or along the border, narrates the story of a group of travlers-almost all complete strangers-who cast their lot with the experienced smuggler Leonardo Cerda. Among them are Julio and his son, Manuelito, who only want to go halfway, and the elderly Lacandona woman Encarnacion Padilla, who seeks the spirits of those previously lost on the crossing. Menda Fuentes, a Salvaodran woman has survived both her country's civil war and an abusive husband. Nicanor and Borrego Osuna are teenage Mexican brothers seeking a better life in the United States. Finally, there is the well-dressed stranger, Armando Guerrero, of whom everyone is afraid.
Each of the characters tells his or her story, past and present. Each plays a critical role at some point in the journey, so the shifting points of view add to the suspense. This short, fast-paced novel is rooted in real experiences and will be of interest to readers, high-school and up.