Escaping terror from Guatemala to America: Book review | Mentoring in the Middle

Escaping terror from Guatemala to America: Book review

From the kitchen came a piercing scream. The green colored pencil slipped, streaking across the almost-finished portrait of a lizard Jaime Rivera had been working on for the last half hour...He took a deep breath before bursting into the kitchen. The wailing only grew louder.

No, no, no, no, please no, he thought. It couldn’t be, couldn’t. It had to be something else. Please!....

“What’s happened?” The words choked him.

Mamá averted her makeup-streaked red eyes. “He’s dead....”

“No.” Because even though he had guessed the possibility, it couldn’t be true. Not Miguel. Not his brave cousin. Not his best friend.

“He was walking through Parque de San José after school. And . . .” Mamá took a deep breath. “The Alphas surrounded him.”

Of course, them.... 

The gang had a strong presence in their small Guatemalan village and other villages in the area. Kids younger than Jaime were addicted to the cocaine the Alphas supplied. Shopkeepers were “asked” to pay the Alphas for protection: the protection they offered was from themselves. Protection from being robbed, or killed, if refused....

“Will I be next?”

His parents didn’t look at him. Mamá started crying again and Papá shook his head. Jaime got his answer.

Within hours of Miguel's funeral, the Alphas delivered a message to 12-year old Jaime and his 15-year old cousin, Angela, Miguel's sister. 

They were next.

Their only hope was to flee to through Mexico to New Mexico, where Jaime's brother, Tomas, lived and worked.  

4,000 kilometers.  2,400 miles.

There are frightening moments on a bus involving immigration authorities.  Friendships formed with other children who are also fleeing their homelands in search of something better.  Dangerous choices to be made about the treacherous crossing of the Mexico-US border at night. 

 Each day held new dangers—getting stabbed by brutal gangs, robbed by other immigrants, or abandoned by traitorous “coyotes” who’d been highly paid to get them to the United States.

The Only Road by Alexandria Diaz casts a spotlight on the desperate road to freedom for children trapped in the horrors of gang violence in Guatemala, and the daring choices they have to make to cross through Mexico, into a country that doesn't seem to want them anymore.

I found myself holding my breath more often than not.  It was hard to put the book down as I traveled this journey with Jaime and Angela.  Very timely, the book addresses the wall being built between Mexico and the United States, and the frustration felt by these poor souls to find a safe space.

If you'd like to look at or purchase the book, you may do so through my Amazon link below.

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