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Crossing the Wire
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Crossing the Wire

4.0 46
by Will Hobbs

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When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to "cross the wire" from Mexico into the United States so he can find work and send money home. But with no coyote money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor must struggle to survive as he jumps trains, stows


When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to "cross the wire" from Mexico into the United States so he can find work and send money home. But with no coyote money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor must struggle to survive as he jumps trains, stows away on trucks, and hikes grueling miles through the Arizona desert.

Victor's journey is fraught with danger, freezing cold, scorching heat, hunger, and dead ends. It's a gauntlet run by millions attempting to cross the border. Through Victor's often desperate struggle, Will Hobbs brings to life one of the great human dramas of our time.

Editorial Reviews

“Provocative...puts a human face on the controversial issue of illegal immigration.”
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2006: Victor, age 15, barely scratches out a living for his widowed mother and his four younger siblings by growing corn in his central Mexican village. When crop prices drop, he realizes he must go to the US to find work so that he can send money home for his family. But without papers, or money to pay the unscrupulous "coyotes" who smuggle illegal workers across the border, Victor is forced to undertake the dangerous trip on his own. He jumps on trains and sneaks across the border with an older man who is soon caught by the police. Victor survives the cold in the mountains, but then he too is caught by the migra and returned to Mexico. Back in Nogales, he is reunited with his best friend, Rico, and together the two make another attempt—this time accompanying murderous drug smugglers. They endure terrible desert heat and even snakebite, manage to escape the smugglers, and finally make it to "the land of opportunity," where work as a migrant field laborer beckons. Hobbs, the author of gripping YA survival tales like Jason's Gold and Wild Man Island, was inspired to write this in order to "put a human face" on illegal immigration, he says in an author's note at the end. The research he did, both on site and in books, clearly shows in his detailed descriptions of both the terrain and the appalling experiences of many would-be illegal immigrants. This gritty and realistic tale will be an eye-opener for many YAs, and whatever their feelings about illegal immigration, they will be able to appreciate Victor's desperation, determination, and courage.
Children's Literature
Victor Flores is fifteen and faced with tremendous problems. His family's small farm in rural Mexico is failing. The death of his father while working in America has left the Flores family desperate. All that Victor can do is leave his family behind and head out to try to find work in "El Norte," the United States. Victor's journey will not be an easy one as he encounters gangs, greedy drug runners, coyotes bent upon sucking profit from the poor migrants, the dangers inherent in crossing the deserts and mountains, and the migra, or border patrol. Along the way Victor makes short-term acquaintances and discovers just how important friendship can be. Victor also finds the strength within himself to sacrifice nearly everything so that he can earn enough money to support his family back in Mexico. Will Hobbs' Crossing the Wire is a powerful story that helps to put a human face on the issues of illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico. In the character of Victor Flores readers will meet a youngster whose sole motivation is to support his economically strapped family. His efforts are almost universally met with exploitation, cruelty, and danger. In the end Victor discovers a great deal, not only about the way the passage north operates but also about himself. Crossing the Wire is a well told tale and a novel that readers will appreciate and learn from. 2006, HarperCollins, and Ages 10 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck
In his many outstanding novels for teens, Hobbs has celebrated Western North America from the boreal forests of Canada, through varied regions of the Western United States, and southward into Mexico. His books involve outdoor adventure in challenging and often remote landscapes. Here fifteen-year-old Victor Flores is compelled to leave his family and the village where he has lived all his life, to "cross the wire" from Mexico into the United States. Since the death of his father, Victor has been the sole support of his mother and young siblings, and he now faces fearful challenges. First having no money to pay "coyote" guides, he must make the illegal crossing without support, evading authorities and troublemakers on both sides of the border. Then lacking English language or trade skills-let alone a green card-he must somehow avoid deportation and earn enough to support himself and to send money home to his mother. Victor's story is riveting, and the reader is immersed in striking natural landscapes while experiencing at first hand the controversial drug, labor, and immigration politics of the Arizona-Mexico border region. While obviously sympathetic to migrant workers and illegal aliens, Hobbs is unsentimental in his portrayal of the hard lives and unpleasant choices facing impoverished Mexican villagers. Fleeing starvation, Victor soon finds himself facing drugs, gang warfare, and violence. No choices are easy or safe, and mere survival presents deadly risks at every turn. It is an exciting story in a vital contemporary setting. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, definedas grades 10 to 12). 2006, HarperCollins, 224p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—Walter Hogan
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Ever since his family moved to the tiny village of Los crboles, Victor has been best friends with Rico. When Rico tells him that he has enough money to pay for "a coyote" to help him cross into El Norte, Victor is unable to decide if he, too, should go along and look for work or try to feed his family with the pitiful annual corn harvest. The decision is made for him the next day when he discovers that the corn prices have bottomed out and that there is no point in even planting this year. Readers suffer with the 15-year-old as he makes his painful decision to leave his mother and younger siblings and attempts the dangerous border crossing, jumping trains, fleeing thieves and border officials, and suffering from thirst and hunger. His desperation and fear are completely believable as he faces near-death situations and must decide whom to trust. The author deftly weaves information concerning the local geography and customs into the plot. The story is well paced, sustaining readers' attention throughout. Pair this novel with Ann Jaramillo's La L'nea (Roaring Brook, 2006) for another fictional view of young people crossing the border between the U.S. and Mexico.-Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Mexican Victor Flores is the man of his family. His father died in a construction accident while working illegally in South Carolina. Victor has been making ends meet by growing corn, but governmental subsidies paid to American farmers have cut his profits to near nothing. He realizes that the only way his family will have the money they need to survive is for him to make the risky border crossing himself. He doesn't have the $1,500 to pay a "coyote" to shepherd him across, so he's on his own. Victor runs into trouble before he even gets to the border. He makes the crossing once with a "lone wolf" named Miguel and is caught and deported. He meets up with his friend Rico, who has had problems of his own getting to El Norte. Rico tricks Victor into crossing with drug smugglers. Events turn out well enough for Victor, but he's surrounded by violence and death on his journey. Hobbs has created a page-turning adventure set squarely in the real world. He offers no easy answers and readers who accompany Victor might be enlightened to some harsh political realities. (Fiction. 10-16)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Riveting...an exciting story in a vital contemporary setting”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.44(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Crossing the Wire

By Will Hobbs

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Will Hobbs
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060741392

Chapter One

Old Friends

The end was coming, but I didn't see it coming.

I was done for the day. The sun had set, my shovel was on my shoulder, and I was walking up the path to the village. As I passed under a high stone wall, my mind only on my empty stomach, a shadowy figure swooped down on me with a shriek that could have raised the dead. I let out a yelp and leaped out of the way.

"Scared you," cried my best friend, Rico Rivera. "Scared you bad, Victor Flores."

I shook my shovel at him. "'Mano, you're lucky I didn't attack you with this."

"What did you think I was?"

"A flying cow, you maniac."

"You should have heard yourself! You squealed like a pig!"

I could only laugh. It had been a long time since Rico had pulled a trick like this. This was the way it used to be with Rico and me, until three years ago, when Rico started trade school in the city of Silao. He lived there now with his sister, whose husband worked at the General Motors plant. Sometimes Rico came home to the village on weekends, but I wouldn't always see him. We were fifteen years old now, with life pulling us in different directions, but we still called each other 'mano. We were hermanos in our hearts. Actual brothers couldn't have grown up much closer.

Rico puthis arm around my shoulder. "I have something to tell you, Victor." Suddenly he wasn't joking around. "Follow me," Rico said gravely. "I have a secret to show you."

"You know how I hate secrets. I thought there weren't any between us."

"A couple of minutes, and there won't be."

Dusk was deepening as Rico led me past the village church, past the cemetery and the dirt field where we'd played futbol and beisbol ever since I could remember. I followed my friend to the old village, abandoned after an earthquake hundreds of years before. All that remained, overgrown with brush, vines, and cactus, were the stone walls built to hold back the hillside. The moon was up, but its light was weak and eerie. This was a place to stay away from.

Rico paused where one of these ancient walls was especially thick with giant prickly pear. "We have to crawl underneath the cactus," he announced.

I wasn't so sure.

"It should be easy for you, Victor. C'mon, Tortuga."

Only Rico called me Turtle. It was a little joke of his. With his long legs, he'd always been the better sprinter, but not by much. "Turtle," though, was only partly about running. Mostly it had to do with my cautiousness.

Here and now, I had reason to be cautious. This was where my four sisters collected cactus fruit and also the pads for roasting as nopales. Teresa, the oldest of my sisters, always carried a stick on account of the rattlesnakes.

Unlike Rico, I was afraid of rattlesnakes. "It's too murky to be crawling in there," I told him.

"I know what you're afraid of, but it's the middle of March. They haven't come out yet. Just follow me."

As always, Rico went first. Once inside, we sat next to each other, our backs to the ancient wall. "Just like the old days," Rico said.

I liked hearing him say that, but it wasn't like Rico to be sentimental. What was this all about? Maybe it was going to be a trick after all. There would be no secret.

"Watch this," Rico said as he reached into a crevice and brought out a small glass jar. With a gleam in his eye, he placed it in my hand. In the patchy moonlight, I had to bring the jar close to my face to make out what was inside. It was a roll of money, and not pesos. American greenbacks, with the number 100 showing. "How much?" I gasped.

"There are fifteen of those. You're looking at one thousand, five hundred American dollars."

I was astounded. In school I had learned to convert kilos to pounds and kilometers to miles. But pesos to dollars was different, floating up and down. The last I heard, it was eleven to one. That meant this was more than sixteen thousand pesos. My family could get by for more than a year on this much money. "I don't understand," I said. "Your parents gave it to you?"

"My parents? Did you hit your head, 'mano?"

"Did you win the lottery? Is the money yours, Rico?"

"It's mine. It's from one of my brothers in the States. It's my coyote money."

The expression meant only one thing. Coyotes were the smugglers who took people across the border to El Norte.

It didn't seem possible. "You're leaving for the other side?"

"Yes, I'm leaving Mexico. I'm going to cross the wire. Destination, the United States of America."


Excerpted from Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs Copyright © 2006 by Will Hobbs. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Will Hobbs is the award-winning author of nineteen novels, including Far North, Crossing the Wire, and Take Me to the River.

Never Say Die began with the author's eleven-day raft trip in 2003 down the Firth River on the north slope of Canada's Yukon Territory. Ever since, Will has been closely following what scientists and Native hunters are reporting about climate change in the Arctic. When the first grolar bear turned up in the Canadian Arctic, he began to imagine one in a story set on the Firth River.

A graduate of Stanford University, Will lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado.

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Crossing the Wire 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Crossing the wire pulled me in from the begining. Its emmotional but wild. I would recomend this book to everyone out there
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I was seven years old I asked my dad how did he come to the. U.S. he said that he came by a plane another thing he said was that there are people who come by boats or by jumping the border. I am in eight grade now and my English teacher miss, brown told us that we were going have group reading. She showed us few books but I was really intrastate in Crossing the Wire by: Will Hobbs. The book reminded me of when I asked my dad how did he come to the. U.S. In Crossing the Wire there are two teen boys Rico reveres and victor floras. Victor has to take care of his whole family. Victor has two sisters and one brother and his mom. Victor is poor and Rico is rich. Rico has 15 brother and sisters. and he the smallest one in his family. They both try to cross in to U.S. they have to struggle lot of stuff to get there. But will they make it to the land of opportunity? I liked the book Crossing the Wire. I really think this is a good book for every one. I would give 5 stars to this book. This is the best book I ever read in my life. This book thought me that people are wiling to stake their lives for money. The age I would recommend is up to 20 year old. The book would be the best for kids who are in to adventure books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read. I loved how it went into the eyes of Victor Flores and his struggle to cross the border to make a living for his family. He was now the man of the house and after I read this book, I think he did a good job when taking responsibility of his family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wendy Fregoso More than 1 year ago
Crossing the Wire Book Review/ Report The book “Crossing the Wire” was written by Will Hobbs and published by HarperCollins Publishers in New york in 2006. Most of the information researched and written about was within the US-Mexican Border and the States touching both sides of the border. It is a realistic fictional book of 214 pages for people of the age of 10 or older. Will Hobbs lives in Arizona and was a graduate of Stanford University. Also is an award-winning author for more the 15 novels for young readers. In which 7 of his books were chosen by the American Library Association as Best Books for Young Adults. Will Hobbs does a very well job introducing the character, setting and giving a background on the first book’s setting. Like in the line Victor says “ My parents had been caught up in the struggle of the poor to grow crops on land that belonged to the wealthy ”(Crossing the Wire: 12,13.)It showed how the family lived and why Viktor wanted to go to Mexico. This is one of the lines that lead to his decision on migrating to the US “Most of the fields lay fallow, abandoned by men working in El Norte or by families who had left for the cites”(Crossing the Wire: 121.) I enjoyed this book because it describes and tells about the hardship immigrants go through on a daily basis before, while and after crossing the border. Which is one of the book’s biggest strengths and what makes this book different compared to other books of this same content. Over all the from cover to cover the book was very interesting and showed and described with a lot of detail. Others who have never been in these situations will learn what immigrants have to go through and how they’re discriminated. Also how the whole family is impacted. Will Hobbs did a great job making the book feel like as if the reader were themselves going through the pain and all the heartache. by: Wendy Fregoso
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book puts th point across to people that mexivans can just go across the border and not even get in trouble. I had to read thos for school book it is so boring tha its pretty much ASKING you to be bored an not understand it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good. It was okay but.....it gets old after a while. :/
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about fifteen year old Victor Flores. His family is threaten by staraytion. He is going to the United Stats to find work and send mony to the family. My favority espisod is when the police try to find the people that are trying to cross the border and he has to run away. I recommon this to other people who like the wild.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a very exciting book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But I heard it was good...
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Why do you have to tell us all of that sure, i agree but yu dont have to tellus about it to the kid four spaces below me
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Austin Zambroni More than 1 year ago
Preety epic
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Jessica Barker More than 1 year ago
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Jodi Randall More than 1 year ago
Only read the first 3 chapters and I am already hooked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago