From the best-selling author of The Tiger and The Golden Spruce, this debut novel is a gripping survival story of a young man trapped, perhaps fatally, during a border crossing.
Hector is trapped. The water truck, sealed to hide its human cargo, has broken down. The coyotes have taken all the passengers' money for a mechanic and have not returned. Those left behind have no choice but to wait.
Hector finds a name in his friend Cesar's phone. AnniMac. A name with an American number. He must reach her, both for rescue and to pass along the message Cesar has come so far to deliver. But are his messages going through?
Over four days, as water and food run low, Hector tells how he came to this desperate place. His story takes us from Oaxaca - its rich culture, its rapid change - to the dangers of the border. It exposes the tangled ties between Mexico and El Norte - land of promise and opportunity, homewrecker and unreliable friend. And it reminds us of the power of storytelling and the power of hope, as Hector fights to ensure his message makes it out of the truck and into the world.
Both an outstanding suspense novel and an arresting window into the relationship between two great cultures, The Jaguar's Children shows how deeply interconnected all of us, always, are.
©2015 John Vaillant (P)2015 Random House Audio
Great story but it's hard to hear the terribly hard, sad, and suffering tale about something that happens every day. It's a truth that is hard to swallow for people that like to have a idealistic view of the world or for a reader that wants a book that's a escape or entertainment. However it's also one of those books about real courage, that help one have more understanding of Mexicans, and that hopefully also makes helps us better people. Hard ride but worth it.
The Jaguar's Children is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. It's a great book to listen to because it's written as a story being told aloud (and texted) to a stranger. Hector is a migrant trapped in a water truck somewhere in Arizona just across the border and he's asking for help and telling his story to an American contact in his friend's phone. It's a rich story about family, place and identity.
Hector talks a lot about his abuelo (grandfather), who was a man fiercely proud of his Zapotec heritage and who had some very colorful adventures in his many years. By the end of the book, I really felt like I knew Hector's abuelo the best and really liked him. He's a man who held his own in a street fight, who didn't believe in the Catholic Church and dressed up as a jaguar during Carnival before lent, who assisted an American archeologist, and who walked a very long way to woo Hector's abuela.
Ozzie Rodriguez is a fantastic narrator. He's very expressive and does a great job drawing the listener in. I will definitely look for another book narrated by him.
This is an intense book. It definitely made me both laugh and cry. I previously read The Tiger by John Vaillant and know that he doesn't pick light subject matter. This story has a startling premise, but the most intense moments aren't about what's going on inside the water truck, but are about what happened before and the hope the characters have for what's ahead of them.
Listen to this book! It's an excellent imagining of people we see and hear about all the time, but usually don't get their stories told. I've lived near the border for almost a decade and heard so much about human smuggling in brief news stories. It's sobering to listen to a far more more personal story about it.
John Vaillant an acclaimed non-fiction author, (The Tiger) and journalist has unflinchingly tackled a difficult subject matter for his first novel. He delivers the story in a unique and innovative way.
The book starts with Héctor sending a text message asking for help and then continues being told with sound files. Héctor along with 12 others who are trying to cross the Mexico / USA border are trapped inside a water truck tank. The coyotes paid to make the crossing have taken their money and left them to die. Over the next four days with a one bar signal on the phone he holds out hope that the contact he is texting and speaking to will bring help, or the slight chance the coyotes will return. (no spoilers - I won't say if they're saved)
Vaillant shines a light on many of the broad issues affecting the indigenous people of Mexico today and manages to seamlessly weaves Héctor's family into the turbulent history. You'll be routing for Héctor from start to finish.
An added bonus to this book is, if you don't know any Spanish you will learn some as the story unfolds.
Many aspects of this story will remain with me.
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