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The Only Road
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Only Road is the story of two teen cousins fleeing a violent gang in their poor Guatemalan village and making the perilous, expensive, illegal journey through Mexico to the United States. Courage, their own talents, the kindness of strangers, and above all the love of friends and family sustain them. But the landscape they traverse is as harrowing as anything dystopian fiction has on offer -- freight trains jammed with desperate people, kids and adults happy to rob and kill you, gangs and immigration officers who treat their victims brutally. Author Alexandra Diaz, who also left her home and loved ones in Cuba when she came to the U.S. as a child, affectingly conveys what it's like when your only chance of survival is to leave everyone you love behind and head into the unknown. There's a lot of harsh reality in this fact-based tale, but also lots of heart.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After gangs in his small Guatemalan village kill his cousin when he refuses to join them, 14-year-old Jaime and his 15-year-old cousin Ángela know that THE ONLY ROAD to their own survival is the one that leads north through Mexico to the United States. There, they hope to meet Jaime's brother Tomás, who's in a work program in New Mexico. Their families pool all their money and borrow more to pay all the smugglers involved, but as they soon find out, the road is full of deadly danger and they're on their own.
Is it any good?
As two teenage cousins take the perilous journey from Guatemala to the U.S., this harrowing, heartfelt tale brings to life the plight of thousands of young refugees and the dangers they face. Author Alexandra Diaz, herself a childhood immigrant from Cuba, vividly conveys what it feels like to leave all you've known and loved behind, probably forever, and to be on a dystopian journey with thousands of people, good and bad, in the same situation.
"Jaime felt as though he already knew too much. Friends at school talked; advertisements on television and on billboards warned of the horrors. In an illegal journey of four thousand kilometers, they were going to places more corrupt than his village, running from gangs more violent than the Alphas, going to a country where no one, except Tomás, wanted them there. Everywhere they'd go on this journey, they'd be unwelcome."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what refugees go through in The Only Road. Thousands of kids worldwide flee their countries to find safety. How would you feel if you suddenly had to leave everyone you knew and loved and face many dangers on your own?
In the story, budding artist Jaime's talent for drawing saves the day several times. Do you have any particular skills or talents that you'd put to good use in a tight situation?
Do you like to watch TV from other countries? What do you like about it?
- Author: Alexandra Diaz
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: October 4, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.