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Publisher's Summary

The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California - fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, Ernesto Flores had always had a fascination with the United States, the distant land of skyscrapers and Nikes, while his identical twin, Raul, never felt that northbound tug. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of the region's brutal gangs, he is forced to flee the country, and Raul, because he looks just like his brother, follows close behind - away from one danger and toward the great American unknown.

In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the 17-year-old Flores twins as they make their harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother's custody in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating a new school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of life as American teenagers - girls, grades, Facebook - with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers a coming of age tale that is also a nuanced portrait of Central America's child exodus, an investigation of US immigration policy, and an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.

©2017 Lauren Markham (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

A Fall 2017 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
"Timely and thought-provoking...Markham provides a sensitive and eye-opening take on what's at stake for young immigrants with nowhere else to go." (Publishers Weekly)
"This brilliantly reported book goes so deeply into the lives of its protagonists and is so beautifully, movingly written it has some of the pleasures of a novel - but all the force of bitter truth, the truth about the lives of unaccompanied minors in the USA, about poverty, the ricocheting wars here and there, and the caprices and brutalities of immigration policy. Anyone who wants to understand more deeply how we got here and why we need to keep going until we get someplace better should dive into this book." (Rebecca Solnit, author of The Mother of All Questions)

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Terrific, important book and great audio recording

This book was a page turner in terms of story while also conveying a larger political and social context. It’s excellently written, and the audio was smooth, appealing, and convincing. Highly recommended.

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  • Terry
  • Princeton, NJ, United States
  • 10-10-17

Powerful insights of real migration issues!

Lauren wrote this story like a novel. It sucked me in, made me squirm, and triggered an aray of mixed emotions. She depicted the harsh reality of a migrate's home they run away from and the challenges faced in the world they escape to. Craftily written and narrated. I highly recommend!
“AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”