A finalist for the National Book Award, Straight's Highwire Moon is a compelling story of Serafina, an illegal migrant from the Mexican State of Oaxaca, who speaks only Mixtec, a regional dialect. When her daughter, Elvia, is only three years old, Serafina is involved in a car crash, after which--forced to leave Elvia behind--she is deported to Mexico.
Twelve years later, with a pair of silver barrettes as her only solid link to Elvia, Serafina begins a hazardous journey across the border to find her lost child. Meanwhile, Elvia, now fifteen and pregnant, decides to track down Serafina.
With a story spread across a wide geographic area, including Oaxaca, Tijuana, Cabazon, Mecca, and the fictitious towns of Tourmaline (Desert Hot Springs?) and Rio Seco (Riverside?), Straight has crafted a moving story populated with desperately poor migrants, drug-addicts barely existing in seedy motels, and lost children living in foster homes. And yet, Highwire Moon is a redemptive tale reminding the reader of the true meaning of home and family.
As an example of the author’s writing skill, in the following passage we find Elvia, several months pregnant, as she and her friend Hector, at the onset of their search for Serafina, picking grapes in a field near Mecca. “(Elvia) smelled the fermenting juices and breathed the dust. Each breath was sharpened, hot, as if the dust particles carried thorns, and her lungs burned…She was on her knees when Hector came again, pouring more water onto her head and face, whispering, ‘You okay?’
‘I can’t breath,’ she gasped.
Hector said, ‘There’s pesticides on the grapes You can’t gulp with your mouth. Breath through your nose…’
The sky and sand and leaves were all white, blinding her as she reached for the grapes, rubbery hot. She panted inside the bandanna. Her mother could be picking beside her. Her mother could be washing these grapes and popping them into her other children’s mouths. Elvia steadied herself against a pole until she could see again.”