Cover image for The far away brothers : two teenage immigrants making a life in America
Title:
The far away brothers : two teenage immigrants making a life in America
ISBN:
9781984829771

9781984829788
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
xv, 265 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
Adapted from a work of the same title published for adults in 2017 by Crown.
Genre:
Summary:
Ernesto and Raull Flores are identical twins, used to being mistaken for each other. As seventeen-year-olds living in rural El Salvador, they think the United States is just a far-off dream--it's too risky, too expensive to start a life there. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of MS-13, one of El Salvador's brutal gangs, he flees the country for his own safety. Raul, fearing that he will be mistaken for his brother, follows close behind. Running from one danger to the next, the Flores twins make the harrowing journey north, crossing the Rio Grande and the Texas desert only to fall into the hands of immigration authorities. When they finally make it to the custody of their older brother in Oakland, California, the difficulties don't end. While navigating a new school in a new language, struggling to pay off their mounting coyote debt, and anxiously waiting for their day in immigration court, Raul and Ernesto are also trying to lead normal teenage lives--dealing with girls, social media, and fitting in. With only each other for support, they begin the process of carving out a life for themselves, one full of hope and possibility. Adapted for young adults from the award-winning adult edition, The Far Away Brothers is the inspiring true story of two teens making their way in America, a personal look at U.S. immigration policy, and a powerful account of contemporary immigration.
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Summary

Summary

The inspiring true story about identical twin teenage brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California as undocumented immigrants, perfect for fans of Enrique's Journey and anyone interested in learning about the issues that underlie today's conversations about DACA and immigration reform.

Ernesto and Raúl Flores are identical twins, used to being mistaken for each other. As seventeen-year-olds living in rural El Salvador, they think the United States is just a far-off dream--it's too risky, too expensive to start a life there. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of MS-13, one of El Salvador's brutal gangs, he flees the country for his own safety. Raúl, fearing that he will be mistaken for his brother, follows close behind.

Running from one danger to the next, the Flores twins make the harrowing journey north, crossing the Rio Grande and the Texas desert only to fall into the hands of immigration authorities. When they finally make it to the custody of their older brother in Oakland, California, the difficulties don't end.

While navigating a new school in a new language, struggling to pay off their mounting coyote debt, and anxiously waiting for their day in immigration court, Raul and Ernesto are also trying to lead normal teenage lives--dealing with girls, social media, and fitting in. With only each other for support, they begin the process of carving out a life for themselves, one full of hope and possibility.

Adapted for young adults from the award-winning adult edition, The Far Away Brothers is the inspiring true story of two teens making their way in America, a personal look at U.S. immigration policy, and a powerful account of contemporary immigration.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"Both touching and educational. . . . Gets inside the heads and hearts of immigrants." --Kirkus, Starred Review

"A must for all young adult nonfiction shelves." -- School Library Journal , Starred

"Visceral and informative, this is a necessary read for today's youth." -- Booklist


Author Notes

Lauren Markham is a writer based in Berkeley, California, focusing on issues related to youth, migration, the environment, and her home state of California. Her work has appeared in outlets such as Harper's, the New Republic, Orion, the Guardian, the New York Times, and VQR, where she is a contributing editor. Lauren earned her MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. For over a decade, she has worked in the fields of refugee resettlement and immigrant education.



laurenmarkham.info

@LaurenMarkham_ on Twitter

@laurenemarkham on Instagram


Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6--9--This young adult adaptation of Markham's book by the same name tells the story of twin brothers Ernesto and Raúl Flores. When Ernesto ended up on the wrong side of the gang MS-13, he fled El Salvador for America; Raúl quickly joined his identical brother, fearing he would be mistaken for Ernesto. The brothers crossed the border, ultimately falling into the hands of immigration. They navigated the legal process of acquiring papers, learned English, and figured out ways to send money home to their parents in order to repay the mounting debt they incurred to make it to the United States. Markham tells the story honestly and vividly, and while at times the book reads like fiction, she inserts her expertise as well as facts and data on the issue. VERDICT Readers will get a very human glimpse into the lives of two immigrants while also learning more about the larger picture of immigration in the United States. A must for all young adult nonfiction shelves.--Katharine Gatcomb, Portsmouth Public Library, NH


Kirkus Review

A young readers' adaptation of the 2017 book of the same name about El Salvadoran twins captured by Border Patrol agents while entering the United States.An exploration of the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, this book takes readers from the violent streets of El Salvador through criminal-controlled zones in Guatemala and Mexico to an illegal crossing of the Rio Grande and the pursuit of the American dream. Ernesto and Ral Flores were teenagers who would rather have stayed home, but with their lives at risk from a gang, their father hired a smuggler to take them north. The journey was filled with danger, fear, homesickness, and the burden of knowing it would be their responsibility to pay back the loan for the coyote's fee taken out against the family's farmland. The author, a journalist with expertise in refugee issues, reminds readers how young these brothers were by exposing their immaturity, indulgences, and mistakesa wise choice, as their humanity shines through in their failures. Never intrusive with her research, she keeps an eye on the family story while weaving in bits of history, geography, and politics. As a result, the fear and displacement the boys felt in California are both touching and educational. The informative afterword offers historical context and suggestions about what might be done to remedy the humanitarian crisis. Gets inside the heads and hearts of immigrants. (author's note, afterword, notes, index) (Nonfiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Markham has adapted her own book into a version for teens that loses none of the urgency or timeliness of the original. Skillfully blending her heavy research into raw personal experiences, she tells the story of Raúl and Ernesto Flores, identical twin brothers who escaped the clutches of MS-13 in El Salvador and made a harrowing journey to the U.S. The narrative includes accounts of economic policies that drive farmers into gangs, social policies that create animosity between people, and political policies that fuel anger and enable corporations to profit from vulnerability and loss. We learn how these policies affect real people, casting families into hopeless situations, debt, and separation. While the twins' immigration story is the focal point, Markham adds nuance by including their typical teen troubles with romance and social media, plus the perspectives of their friends and family back home, in addition to that of the person who took responsibility for them in the U.S. Visceral and informative, this is a necessary read for today's youth.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2019 Booklist


Excerpts

Excerpts

 "You boys from eighteen?" one of the young men asked, pointing his gun toward a graffiti tag on the wall: barrio 18.   It was 2008. The Flores twins, twelve, were playing cards on the town soccer field with their brother and friends when a pickup pulled up. Ten or so guys sporting baggy clothes and tattoos stood in the truck bed with guns and machetes. They were MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, the twins knew--members of the notorious gang. The MS-13 was showing up more and more in La Colonia, the small town where the Flores boys lived. The twins and their friends were high on adrenaline from having won a soccer match that morning. But the sight of the armed men scared them silent.   They shook their heads.   Ernesto's gaze was lowered, but he could feel the men staring down at him.   "I asked if you fuckers were from eighteen!" the man shouted. At that, one of the twins' friends took off running into the woods. Suddenly Ernesto and Raúl were sprinting through the forest that flanked the town soccer field--Ernesto first, Raúl close behind--panting and crashing through the tall grasses while shouts and a scatter of gunshots crackled behind them.   Running away from a truck full of MS-13 gangsters was a risky choice. It either showed the kids' allegiance to the rival Barrio 18 gang or, at the very least, a lack of respect for MS-13.   When the shouts sounded far enough away, the twins hit the ground, lying on their bellies in the brush. They stayed there for what felt like hours--until they were sure the truck was gone.       The road to La Colonia weaves through a tangle of greenery: there are vines overhead, and tall, tight rows of banana trees, canopies of barillos, pink flowering cacao, and flourishing palms. La Colonia--which is about thirty miles from San Salvador and home to fewer than four thousand people--spreads up and around the slopes of a gentle, low hill.   The houses along the road are simple but comfortable, built from concrete, many of them painted colors that were once bright--ice blue, cotton-candy pink. Less fortunate homes dot the nearby hills and farmland. Flags of the ARENA conservative party flap from poles. Along the road stand La Colonia's schools--two high schools and an elementary school. One of only about a dozen Flores family photos is of the twins and their older sister, somber-faced and gangly beneath too-big dress clothes, on the proud occasion of Ernesto and Raúl's ninth-grade graduation.   Cows use the road as often as people do, plodding along between farm and pasture. During harvest time, families lay their bean pods and corn out to dry on the pavement, the kernels spread out like a mosaic.   The road crests the hill and then dips downward, and that's where the Flores home sits, a stone house lined with crumbling stucco. From there it's not much farther to the center of town, a sleepy square rimmed by a block or two of houses and a few businesses--family-run restaurants, shops, the mayor's office. The high-rising church is the town's main attraction.   Until the twins were teenagers, the town center was busy day and night. Kids ran around the playground or played soccer. Those who'd begged spare change from their parents bought snow cones from the woman with the stand. The pupuserías were open until midnight, playing music and serving sodas and beers, the proprietors flipping the cakes of corn masa against the griddle until the edges were crispy.   "It was a beautiful town," Raúl remembers. "It was."       Like the rest of the farmers in La Colonia, the twins' father, Wilber Sr., regarded the mountain and its fertile land as a divine inheritance. The land was good to him; God provided. "The way to survive this world is to stay close to God," he said to his children. "And keep manos limpias": clean hands.   Wilber carried a small Bible in his pocket at all times, the binding frayed and worn from use. He and his wife, Esperanza, had always wanted a big family, but for many years they'd felt they might be cursed. They got married in the midst of the country's civil war (1980-1992), in 1985. Two years later, as the war still raged, Esperanza gave birth to their first baby, Ricardo.   It was a dirty war, as Wilber put it. On one side there was the right-wing government, loyal to those with money, and operating with brutal military force. On the other there was the growing leftist guerrilla movement, claiming to be fighting for the interests of the poor, especially the country's rural farmers. But the Flores family thought it best to stay out of politics.   In cities and in the countryside, mutilated bodies showed up in the streets. Political prisoners were heaved off a cliff above San Salvador. Later, a 1993 report by the UN Truth Commission for El Salvador asserted that 85 percent of the atrocities were carried out by the conservative ARENA government. In fact, the United States helped to train and back these forces--death squads and all--to prevent a guerrilla takeover: an effort, in the midst of 1980s Cold War paranoia, to prevent the "spread" of Communism.   Excerpted from The Far Away Brothers: Two Teenage Immigrants Making a Life in America by Lauren Markham All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.