July 2018: Reading to Unite
In a time when our country seems so divided, we see literature as a unifying force. Check out these wonderful titles that help frame productive conversations and build common ground!
To research my 2015 novel, “The Same Sky,” about the intersecting lives of a Texas couple who own a restaurant and a Honduran girl who crosses the border illegally to find her mother, I left my husband and three children and went to Brownsville, Tex., and San Diego. In visits to six shelters over several days in both cities, I interviewed dozens of unaccompanied minors who had been caught entering the United States illegally, most trying to reach their parents. Richer kids told me they had come with “coyotes” in buses, cars, planes and, in one case, a speedboat; poorer kids had ridden on top of the train that cuts across Mexico to the United States.
Their stories were terrifying. Some were more horrific than others. In San Diego, my interpreter was also the children’s psychologist; as the kids spoke, the psychologist shook her head, sometimes saying, “I didn’t know about that,” and “Oh, God, she hadn’t told me this part.” Almost all the children in the shelters spoke about God and their belief that he was watching out for them, even though many told me stories of seeing other kids die — starved, beaten, drowned, burned, bitten by alligators, left behind because they were too dehydrated to walk another step, tossed off a speeding train. Keep Reading
Alice and her husband, Jake, own a barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas. Hardworking and popular in their community, they have a loving marriage and thriving business, but Alice still feels that something is missing, lying just beyond reach.
Carla is a strong-willed young girl who's had to grow up fast, acting as caretaker to her six-year-old brother Junior. Years ago, her mother left the family behind in Honduras to make the arduous, illegal journey to Texas. But when Carla's grandmother dies and violence in the city escalates, Carla takes fate into her own hands--and with Junior, she joins the thousands of children making their way across Mexico to America, facing great peril for the chance at a better life.
In this elegant novel, the lives of Alice and Carla will intersect in a profound and surprising way. Poignant and arresting, The Same Sky is about finding courage through struggle, hope amid heartache, and summoning the strength--no matter what dangers await--to find the place where you belong.