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Breaking Through

Breaking Through

4.3 43
by Francisco Jimenez

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At the age of fourteen, Francisco Jiménez, together with his older brother Roberto and his mother, are caught by la migra. Forced to leave their home in California, the entire family travels all night for twenty hours by bus, arriving at the U.S. and Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. In the months and years that follow during the late 1950s-early 1960s,


At the age of fourteen, Francisco Jiménez, together with his older brother Roberto and his mother, are caught by la migra. Forced to leave their home in California, the entire family travels all night for twenty hours by bus, arriving at the U.S. and Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. In the months and years that follow during the late 1950s-early 1960s, Francisco, his mother and father, and his seven brothers and sister not only struggle to keep their family together, but also face crushing poverty, long hours of labor, and blatant prejudice. How they sustain their hope, their good-heartedness, and tenacity is revealed in this moving, Pura Belpré Honor-winning sequel to The Circuit. Without bitterness or sentimentality, Francisco Jiménez finishes telling the story of his youth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Francisco Jiminez continues the moving tale of his early youth begun with a dozen autobiographical short stories in The Circuit. Breaking Through chronicles the author's teenage years. At the age of 14, Francisco and his family are caught by la migra (immigration officers) and forced to leave their California home, but soon find their way back. The author explores the prejudice and challenges they face while also relaying universal adolescent experiences of school, dances and romances. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Born to poor Mexican parents, Francisco and his family migrated to the United States in the 1950's. This is the true story of young Francisco's struggles with poverty and discrimination. To help support the family, he often misses school to work on farms picking lettuce or strawberries. As he gets older, Francisco obtains a job cleaning offices. During most of his high school years, Francisco wakes at the crack of dawn to clean a few offices. He then attends a full day of classes, spends some time studying in the library after school, then heads directly to another cleaning job. Francisco is determined to become a teacher even though his family is unable to provide any financial support and only limited moral encouragement. Francisco is living proof that success can be achieved when a person's motivation and drive is great enough. This book is a sequel to The Circuit. 2001, Houghton Mifflin, $15.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer:Denise Daley
"I lived in constant fear for ten long years, from the time I was four until I was fourteen years old." The author's fear became reality in eighth grade, when immigration officials took him from school. His family was being deported back to Mexico. In this sequel to The Circuit (Houghton Mifflin, 1999), Jimenez uses deceptively simple prose to describe the life-shaping events that occurred from the deportation through his high school years. Once he is able to return to the United States, school dances and student government responsibilities must be balanced with working to help support his family. College seemed an impossible dream to this immigrant boy from a poor family, but caring teachers and counselors helped him both to find financial resources and to overcome the reluctance of his father to send his son away to school. The book ends as his family drives him to the University of Santa Clara to start a new chapter in his life. Jimenez first experienced reading for pleasure when his sophomore English teacher introduced him to The Grapes of Wrath. He was entranced by characters whose experiences mirrored his own working in the fields of California. By sharing from his own life, he provides readers the same possibility to become involved with a book. The simple language makes this work an excellent choice for reluctant readers and ESL students who will relate to how Jimenez's deep ties to his family are stretched by living in a new culture. VOYA CODES:4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses;Broad general YA appeal;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Houghton Mifflin, 208p, $15. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer:LibbyBergstrom—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Maturity means breaking through the cocoon into freedom for Panchito, whose adolescence is described in this sequel to The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (Houghton, 2001). The simplicity of life and the unending work for the whole family continues here, but is mitigated by Panchito's increased awareness and gradual loss of innocence as he learns to make his life a success. His father's bitterness, pain, and need for unquestioning obedience is matched by his mother's ability to coax agreement out of her son. The clash of cultures between teen insolence in the U.S. and Mexican respect for elders' authority is vividly portrayed, as is the injustice and casual bigotry often endured by young and old. Fortunately, the protagonist, now often known as Frankie, finds friends and employers willing to recognize his strength of character and ability. While sure to be inspiring and reassuring to readers mesmerized by the first book, this follow-up lacks the intensity and voice so memorable in that one, and is consequently less affecting. Still, Jim nez ably helps readers see the world of 1950s and 1960s California through adolescent eyes. Rock 'n' roll, Kennedy versus Nixon, the old-boy network of service clubs, the humiliation of deportation, and the painful struggle to have the right clothes are among the pieces of that world that readers see with a startling clarity from a new perspective. The photos at the end are great additions.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"The images are powerful . . . this is a book for many readers, who may discover an America they didn't know was here." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

null The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

null Horn Book

null School Library Journal

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
750L (what's this?)
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Jiménez' autobiographical story The Circuit (1997) broke new ground with its drama of a Mexican American migrant child in southern California. It won many prizes and was a Booklist Editors' Choice. This moving sequel is a fictionalized memoir of Jimenez's teenage years in the late 1950s, when the family finally stayed in one place and Francisco and his brothers worked long hours before and after school to put food on the table. First they picked strawberries in the fields. Later the jobs got better: cleaning offices, washing windows and walls, waxing floors. The prose here is not as taut as in the first book, but Jimenez writes with simplicity about a harsh world seldom seen in children's books. He also writes about a scary, sad, furious, and broken father--like the father in Na's A Step from Heaven [BKL Je 1 & 15 01]. He stays true to the viewpoint of a teenager growing up poor: the yearning (What would it be like to live in a house, rather than the crowded barracks?); the ignorance (College?); the hurt of prejudice. Yet he celebrates his Mexican roots even as he learns to be an American. The images are powerful, especially the one of the boy cleaning offices before dawn, with notes of English words to memorize in his shirt pocket. An excellent choice for ESL classes, this is a book for many readers, who may discover an America they didn't know was here.

Meet the Author

Francisco Jiménez emigrated from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to California, where he worked for many years in the fields with his family. He received both his master’s degree and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is now the chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of his newest novel, Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Through, and La Mariposa. He is also the recipient of the John Steinbeck Award. He lives with his family in Santa Clara, California.

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Breaking Through 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Felipe41 More than 1 year ago
Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez Review by Felipe Sanchez In all memoirs that I've read, this book, Breaking Through, is truly an outstanding piece by Francisco Jimenez. The word choice that he puts into his work adds extremely fine detail. For example, in one part of the story Francisco describes his brother as, "awed and speechless" when he's touched and then he adds the finishing touches by saying, "He grabbed the statue firmly with both hands, making sure not to drop it". Put simply this book isn't one of those "repetitive" or "tired concepts". This book inspires you. Sure Jimenez wrote a story about his family crossing the border. Sure almost every other author has done that. But the way that that actually happened is just amazing. Francisco deals with problems all over the book. His family can barely make enough money to put food on the tables, everyone is just about sick with working in the fields to only get a dollar a day, and the dad wouldn't even let Francisco go to college! The storyline flows through the book cleverly from crossing the border to watching movies and dancing in clubs. A person who has suffered for being a Mexican, for having a grumpy dad that is not inspiring at all, and for having mono, one of the worst diseases you could have, Francisco did it. He showed that anybody could achieve their goals. If I had to describe Francisco in one word, or maybe even the book, it would have to be determination. That guy must have a lot of courage to stand up to his dad and fight for his future. Now, in the end, words are just words. That's all they really are but, the way you organize those words is what makes them come to life. That's why I love this book. That's why it will continue to be great for readers and have that effect for years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Breaking Through is a heart warming story about a boy named Fransico Jaminez.He is an immigrant who moves to the U.S and is learning the language and trying to fit in.Through out the story he encounters many difficulties in his middle school and his school times.He also grows up very much.Fransico is very close to his brother and work together on a daily basis.At a young age he starts to work and make money to support his family.Overall this book was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much.I recommend reading this book as soon as possible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Breaking Through' is the autobiography of Francisco Jimenez. It is his story of immigrating with his family to California from Mexico. They struggled to make a living in California. As a young boy he labored in the strawberry fields while trying to complete his education. When money becomes scarce he gets another job cleaning business offices. All the while he continues to excel in school. He recognizes that an education will lead to opportunities for a better life for him and his family. I like this book because it is a great example of perseverance. Francisco's persistence and his resolution to rise above his circumstances is admirable. He never gave up. Despite family illness and financial hardships he continued to work hard. I would recommend it because it is a good story. It is inspirational. People who recently immigrated might find it reassuring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i understand the struggle of being Mexican and not being payed enough i understand the struggle im waiting for some one to take a stand against unfair pay and if nobody does i will i wanna be the Caesar Chaves of my generation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know how this book is four and a half stars but it totally deserves 5 stars automatically  My favorite book and highly recommend reading this if your a Mexican American immigrant. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome!!!!!!!!! Im so proud of you Fidshing... er... Hexwing!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She held Vulpix and Weavile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The small Gang arrived at Nibassa city. The lights glimmered and people with cameras took flashy pictures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was really interesting. why? I thought this book was interesting because I could relate to Francisco. Francisco is a kid who gets to the US illegally. At the age of Fourteen him and his brother Roberto get deported. The entirely family decides to go back to mexico, but they struggled to keep a stable family. Francisco wants to go back because he had the chance to study and become someone in life. He had a poor family, but he had hopes of succeeding in this country. His family managed a way to get papers for both Roberto and Francisco, when they get back to the US , they start working hard to send money to their parents. As time goes by in Nogalez  Arizona, they grow up and get a car of their own. At first Francisco is ashamed of his dads truck and decides to park it far away from his school. I enjoyed reading this book because it took place not too long ago and the boy was around my age. I could not believe that he had to work to help support his family. I thought it was interesting because whatever money I get, my parents let me keep for myself, but everything he had was given to his parents.I think that theme of the book is the struggle of immigrants. I would recommend this book to anyone because it shows the struggles of a poor family who migrates to the US to succeed; this will be a great motivation to anyone that wants to succeed in life. 
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This the best story EVER.
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This book is as good as the first one
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Good book to read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful heart warming story . A good book for ALL AGES . I LOVED IT !!!!!!!! All i can say is wonderful .
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Eric Eislund More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago