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Reaching Out (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Reaching Out (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.8 6
by Francisco Jimenez

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From the perspective of the young adult he was then, Francisco Jiménez describes the challenges he faced in his efforts to continue his education.
During his college years, the very family solidarity that allowed Francisco to survive as a child is tested. Not only must he leave his family behind when he goes to Santa Clara University, but while Francisco is


From the perspective of the young adult he was then, Francisco Jiménez describes the challenges he faced in his efforts to continue his education.
During his college years, the very family solidarity that allowed Francisco to survive as a child is tested. Not only must he leave his family behind when he goes to Santa Clara University, but while Francisco is there, his father abandons the family and returns to Mexico. This is the story of how Francisco coped with poverty, with his guilt over leaving his family financially strapped, with his self-doubt about succeeding academically, and with separation. Once again his telling is honest, true, and inspiring.

Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Year 2008 Smithsonian Magazine
In this eloquent, transfixing account, Jimenez again achieves a masterful addition to the literature of the memoir.
Sacramento Bee
No one who reads these life stories will forget them. Jiménez reaches out to let us walk in his shoes, feel his pain and pride, joy and sorrow, regrets and hope. All three books should be required reading for Californians. Students of Mexican heritage will see themselves. The rest of us will better understand what it takes to make this journey. And we'll all be hanging on for the next book.
VOYA - KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
Whereas The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (University of Mexico Press, 1997) and Breaking Through (Houghton Mifflin, 2001/VOYA December 2001) focused on the author's childhood and adolescence, this book continues Frankie's story by offering a snapshot of his college years. Determined to become a teacher, Frankie works hard at Santa Clara University during the school year. He goes home to Bonetti Ranch during summer vacation where he spends long hours doing janitorial work so he can help his family survive financially. Despite Frankie's dedication to his family, he feels guilty about attending school while his family struggles. After his father gets depressed and leaves California to return to Tlaquepaque, Mexico, Frankie's guilt forces him to consider dropping out of college during his sophomore year. Some parts of this story could have been further developed. For example, Frankie and others experience prejudice in Santa Clara and surrounding areas, but information about it is scarce. Frankie's relationship with his father also leaves readers with more questions than answers. The author does a thorough job, however, of describing the difficulties, such as feeling unprepared and disadvantaged when compared to others, that some first-generation college students face. As in JimTnez's other books, there are several kind-hearted and giving mentors and benefactors-some of whom appear in photos in the back of the book-who go out of their way to help Frankie and his family. These gestures of kindness offer readers hope. This book is recommended for the library that already has the first two books on its shelf. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
Children's Literature - Leila Toledo
It is always uplifting to read a story about an individual who manages to succeed in spite of an underprivileged background. Francisco Jiminez is such a person. He and his family came to California from Mexico hoping to start a new and better life. As in many such situations, Jiminez benefitted both from family support and the guidance of teachers, priests, other students, and neighbors who had faith in his ability and helped him break down the barriers so that he could achieve the education he needed. At one point, when he was almost finished college, Jiminez considering dropping out because his family desperately needed money, survival money. After agonizing over the problem, he decided to complete his education so that he would be in a better position to help his family. How difficult that must to have been for him! I would recommend this book to young children so that they will recognize that they too can fulfill their dream of an education and a successful career. The author also points out that everyone has a story worth sharing. Reviewer: Leila Toledo
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Jiménez, the son of Mexican immigrants, left behind a life of hard work and poverty when he entered Santa Clara University in 1962. Here, he chronicles his college years and introduces people who befriended him as well as those who had prejudices against Mexicans. Throughout his story, the difficulties of his transition from family life to college life are evident. His palpable fear of failure was mitigated by those who helped him recognize his worth and develop and strengthen his character. The book ends as he is bound for graduate school at Columbia University. This sequel to Breaking Through (2001) and The Circuit (1999, both Houghton) again brings to the forefront the daily trials of poor immigrant families. The author poignantly relates his family's struggles and how their teamwork enabled him to attend college. While the book relates his trials and successes, it also tells how his family members overcame their own obstacles. Using the style of a good storyteller, Jiménez gives voice to strong familial bonds with an intensity that is both compelling and honest. The family photographs at the end of the book add a nice touch.-Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK

Kirkus Reviews
This sequel to The Circuit (1997) and Breaking Through (2001), which covered Mexican-born Jimenez's childhood, takes Francisco through his college years at the University of Santa Clara. After long years working in California fields and living in labor camps, Francisco is the first in his family to attend college, and this volume is a tribute to all first-generation college students and the many people who made a difference in Francisco's own life. As he says to his family at graduation, "We all did it." It's a bittersweet story, though, as Francisco frequently feels guilty at the sacrifices made on his behalf, and even as he heads to Columbia University for graduate studies on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he yearns for stability in his life and a place to call home. While the first two volumes felt as though they were collections of autobiographical short stories, this is a more linear and straightforward autobiographical novel, simply and eloquently told. An inspiring account of a remarkable journey. (author's note, photographs) (Fiction. 11 & up)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

College Bound

The day I had longed for had finally arrived. It was Sunday, September 9, 1962. I felt excited and nervous as I got ready to make the trip north to Santa Clara. I had worked hard to make this journey to college even though it seemed improbable for so many years. I did not anticipate, however, how difficult it would be to leave my family, especially my older brother, Roberto.
Roberto and I had been inseparable ever since we were children living in El Rancho Blanco, a small village nestled on barren, dry hills in the northern part of the state of Jalisco, Mexico. I called him “Toto” because when I was first learning to talk, I could not pronounce “Roberto.” In Mexico, he used to take me to church on Sundays. In the evenings, he and I huddled with our parents around a fire built with dry cow chips in the middle of our adobe hut and listened to our uncle Mauricio tell ghost stories. I kept Roberto company every day while he milked our five cows by hand before dawn, and I helped him fetch water from the river. I cried every time Toto was out of my sight. Whenever I misbehaved, my parents punished me by separating me from him.
Hoping to leave our poverty behind and start a new and better life, my family emigrated illegally from Mexico to California in the late 1940s and began working in the fields. From the time I was six years old, Toto and I worked together alongside our parents. He sang Mexican songs to me such as “Cielito Lindo” and “Dos Arbolitos” while we picked cotton in early fall and winter in Corcoran. After we were deported in 1957 by la migra and came back legally, Roberto took care of me like a fatherwhen he and I lived alone for six months in Bonetti Ranch, a migrant labor camp,. He was a sophomore in high school and I was in the eighth grade at the time. The rest of our family stayed in Guadalajara and joined us later. During that time, I helped him in his job doing janitorial work at Main Street School in Santa Maria after school, and on weekends we worked together topping carrots or thinning lettuce. After graduating from high school, Roberto got married and continued working as a custodian for the Santa Maria School District on weekdays. And even though he had left our home in Bonetti Ranch to start his own family, we saw each other often. On weekends he and I worked together for the Santa Maria Window Cleaners, a commercial janitorial company.
Roberto and his wife, Darlene, dropped by early that Sunday morning with their baby girl, Jackie, to say goodbye. Darlene, who looked a lot like the actress Elizabeth Taylor, patted Roberto on the back, trying to console him, while he and I hugged each other. “He’ll be back for Thanksgiving,” she said. Being separated from my brother was as painful as yanking out a fingernail.
My father was in one of his usual bad moods and impatient to get going. “Vámonos, pues,” he said annoyed. Let’s get going. Ever since he had hurt his back from doing stoop labor for many years and could no longer work in the fields, his temper had gotten worse. Bracing himself on Roberto’s broad shoulders, he carefully slid onto the passenger’s seat of our old, beat-up DeSoto. His face was pale and drawn and his eyes were red from lack of sleep. He was upset because I was leaving home. He wanted our family to always be together.
I locked the front door to the army barrack, which we rented from Mr. Bonetti. I climbed in the driver’s seat, slammed the bent door shut, and quickly fastened it with a rope to keep it closed. As we drove out of Bonetti Ranch, I rolled down the cracked window so I could make hand signals. My father flinched every time the car hit potholes in the dusty road. Trampita, my younger brother, sat between my father and me. We gave José Francisco the nickname “Trampita,” Little Tramp, because my parents dressed him in baby clothes we found in the city dump when he was born. My other younger brothers, Torito and Rubén, and my little sister, Rorra, sat in the back seat with my mother. They were excited to make the trip, but they kept quiet because my father did not tolerate noise, especially when he was in a bad mood.
I turned right onto East Main and headed west on the two-lane road toward Santa Maria to take highway 101 north to Santa Clara. The sun poked its head above the mountains behind us, casting a shadow in front of our DeSoto. On both sides of the narrow road were hundreds of acres of strawberry fields, which my family had worked in during the harvest season, from sunup to sundown, a few years before. As we approached the Santa Maria Bridge, I remembered the pain I felt every time we had crossed this bridge on our way north to Fresno to pick grapes and cotton every September < for eight years. During that time I alwaaaays missed the first ten weeks of school because I was working with my familly in the fields. From tthe corner of my eye I saw my ffather close his eyes. “Do you want me to drive, Panchito?” Trampita whispered. “You look tired.” My family called me “Panchito,” the Spanish nickname for Francisco, which was my birth name.
“No, thanks. You need to rest yourself. You’ll have to drive back.” Trampita had to take over my janitorial job and work thirty-five hours a week, as I did, while going to school to help support our family. Without him, I would not have been making this journey.
Through the rearview mirror I saw my mother dozing off with her arms around Rorra and Rubén, who were fidgety. Torito gazed out the side window, humming something to himself.
We called Rubén, my youngest brother, Carne Seca, because he was as thin as a strip of beef jerky when he was a child. He sat on my father’s lap whenever we traveled from place to place, following the crops. My father favored him because, according to my mother, Rubén looked like my dad. Rorra, my little sister, whose given name was Avelina, followed me around whenever I was home. She liked being teased, and often when we poked fun at each other, she would remind me of the time she was four years old and took two of my favorite pennies from my coin collection and bought gum with them from a gum machine. “I am stuck on you,” she’d say, laughing. We called her Rorra, “doll,” because she looked like one. We all doted on her. I felt a pain in my chest, thinking about not seeing them every day. We passed familiar coastal towns along the way: Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach. As we approached San Luis Obispo, I remembered visiting California Polytechnic College during my junior year. Now I was headed to the University of Santa Clara, and the only thing I knew about college for sure was that it would be more difficult than high school. I knew this because Mrs. Taylor, my freshman social studies teacher, often told our class, “You think the work I give you is hard? Wait until you go to college!” Our DeSoto strained to climb the San Luis Obispo grade. There was a string of cars behind me. “Move to the right and let cars pass you,” my father said, waking up from his nap. “I can see why you didn’t get a good grade in driver’s ed,” Trampita said, laughing. I lightly elbowed Trampita in the shoulder and steered to the right lane. The driver behind me gave me a nasty look as he passed by. I kept my eyes straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with the other drivers. “I hope I don’t get a ticket for driving so slow,” I said.

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 chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Through, La Mariposa, and his newest novel, Reaching Out. He lives in Santa Clara, California, with his family.

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Reaching Out 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
-larry More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book as a companion to "Mas alla de mi" because it is an english translation. I highly recommended this author for all students of Spanish because his three books in the series do have a companion english version.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am actually reading the Spanish version but purchased the English version to assist with some translation. The book is very interesting and is part of a series. This book details the author's life as he leaves his Mexican family and goes off to college. It records his struggles with finding himself in university life. An interesting read.
Twilight.Fan More than 1 year ago
This book is part of the wonderful "The Circuit" series by Francisco Jimenez. In the final novel of the series brings a lot of up and downs of an immigrant young man who applies to college. His up and downs shows that even if a person had a rough past (Not knowing any English, and having a poor family,) he can achieve anything he needs to have a better future in the U.S.A :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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