REVIEW: This is a great book on multiple levels. The author presented information in a non-judgmental way. She did a great job of describing the individual, personal experience as well as the global viewpoint. I personally learned a lot and also started to think about the immigration situation in the US in a different, more empathetic way. I highly recommend this book!! I think it is an important part of our immigration discussion. I received a complimentary copy of the book for this review.
Wilbur – father
Esperanza – mother
Ricardo – oldest child
Wilbur Jr. – went to California
Maricela – 2 children
Graciela – Wilbur’s half sister
Don Augustin – Uncle Augustin
Cesar – father to Maricela’s 2nd baby
Gabby – girlfriend
Rosalinda – Gabby’s mother
Two children – Jose and Silvia
Sandra – helped boys across border
Oakland International High School (OIHS)
Mr. David – math teacher
Lauren Markham – author
Amy Allen – attorney
Sofia – Ernesto’s girlfriend
Isabella - daughter
For Discussion:Note: Page numbers are from hardback edition.
- Discuss the positive and negative influences of Facebook for the two brothers.
- Their family went into massive debt to send Ernesto and Raul to the United States. What did you think about them spending money on shoes, jackets, etc. instead of sending more money home? How was Wilbur able to pay off his debt and the twins were not?
- Discuss the sacrifices made by the families and others for Ernesto and Raul:
- The Flores family accrued massive debt and eventually had to sell some of their land.
- Wilbur Jr. put his own dreams on hold and risked being identified as undocumented to help his brothers.
- Sandra put herself at risk even though she had her own family.
- What did you think of the incident in chapter 8 when everyone was admiring a beetle and Ernesto stomped on it and killed it. Is this related to the murder he witnessed on his journey to the United States? How did that affect him?
- Was there anything that could have been done to help the boys stay in school and finish their education?
- Two different times in the book the author described how the boys felt inferior. On page 190 (chapter 9) the boys felt “accused …of being nothing” and on page 213 (chapter 10) she wrote, “Living on the margins of a gentrifying city only underlined to Ernesto what the twins had been told and had fought during their whole lives; that they were less than, and that they didn’t, and shouldn’t expect to, belong.” Can you understand their feelings? Were there any way things could have been different?
- In the Afterword the author asks the question, “Concerning immigration, the questions we should be asking are: Why is Central America hemorrhaging people? And what can be done to stop it at the source?” (page 268). What do you think?
- How well did the author present the information without expressing her own opinion?
- Did you gain any new insights into the experiences of immigrants in America?
- How might you change things in America after reading this book?
- Discuss your reading experience. Did you like the way the book was organized with alternating sections of the story of the two brothers with more global information?
First Semester Success: Learning Strategies and Motivation for Your First Semester (or Any Semester) of College, by Dr. Arden B. Hamer, is available at amazon.com, wordassociation,com and barnesandnoble.com. Click on the upper right link.