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Publisher's Summary

"A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk - and lose - their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective." (Phil Klay)

For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood. His mother, a second-generation Mexican American, raised him in Arizona's desert scrublands and the national parks where she worked as a ranger, driven to protect the places she loved. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. Stationed at the remote crossroads of a drug route and a smuggling corridor, he learns how to track other humans under the punishing glare of the sun and through dark, frigid nights. He detains the exhausted, the parched, huddled children yearning for their families. He hauls in the bodies from where they have fallen.

Plagued by nightmares, Cantú abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when a friend, a regular at the café where he now works, travels back to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantu discovers that the border and its stories have migrated with him. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a Riverbrings home to us the destruction that US policy inflicts on countless migrants' lives, and the violence it wreaks on the humanity of us all.

©2018 Francisco Cantú (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Cantú's story, and intelligent and humane perspective, should mortify anyone who ever thought building a wall might improve our lot. He advocates for clarity and compassion in place of xenophobia and uninformed rhetoric. His words are emotionally true and his literary sensibility uplifting." (Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men )
"This book tells the hard poetry of the desert heart. If you think you know about immigration and the border, you will see there is much to learn. And you will be moved by its unexpected music." (Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway)

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What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Such a powerful message

I don't know what the answers are, but this book begs for answers for this painful, angry subject. more people in power need to see these people as people, not things to be dealt with.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A necessary read, I am thankful for

Where do I start?
Every minute of this audio book was powerful.

It is a raw, honest, and heartfelt view of the boarder. It is so eye opening and highlights the humanitarian crisis that happens daily.

I am in tears, of joy and hope.

I am happy people like Francisco exist and share there powerful story.

He put a name, a familiar story to people that cross our boarders.

These stories matter, their names matter.

They are all of us, we are all connected and this book will wake you up and make you realize that.

So thankful I heard him on NPR and found this book.

I am making everyone I know read it. Listen to it .

It is necessary!!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyed it. Glimpse of the humanitarian crisis that has overrun the U.S.-Mexico border narrated from two main points of view - that of the US border patrol and that of the illegal migrant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Vista a dos mundos

A well written book that is a must read for dreamers, and really anyone who in not Native American, because we all came from somewhere else. This book is only a small glimpse at a very complex and complicated problem. Immigration. Our elected government must not continue to ignore this problem as it grows with the passage of time. Thank you Mr.Cantu for sharing your experience, for choosing to remain a member of a human race with a heart and a conscience and to your mother for raising the man you have become. Gracias

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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found it very interesting

What did you love best about The Line Becomes a River?

I appreciated and enjoyed the inclusion of border history/formation with his modern day story. thanks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • Denver, CO, United States
  • 07-12-18

Required reading

This telling book would be amazing discussion for high schoolers to voters . Especially compelling with the new immigration issues. Heartbreaking.

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Stunning account of institutionalized violence

Any1 who is responsible for or cares about immigration policy should read this book b4 resorting to biblical references to justify their actions. Any1 in an institution that uses violence for enforcement needs to ask if she/he can live w/ the struggles of the author to be part of such a system. There're no easy answers, but if you fail to reflect on your actions, you have to ask why This is a very provocative book from a gifted author who hopefully will have works I the future to share..

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Interesting to hear the first hand account.

interesting to hear this former border patrol's experience. This book was very compassionate about an important topic.

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immigration unleashed

gripping story about the real world of Mexican immigration. the border wall what a joke. Trump should read this book

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too short.

excellent stor,y and great points of views. It was too brief, I was expecting as little more re the outcome of Jose.