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Publisher's Summary

An Entertainment Weekly Most Anticipated Book of 2020

This unforgettable memoir from a prize-winning poet about growing up undocumented in the United States recounts the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and chronicles one young man’s attempt to build a future in a nation that denies his existence.

"You were not a ghost even though an entire country was scared of you. No one in this story was a ghost. This was not a story."

When Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was five years old and his family was preparing to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, he suffered temporary, stress-induced blindness. Castillo regained his vision, but quickly understood that he had to move into a threshold of invisibility before settling in California with his parents and siblings. Thus began a new life of hiding in plain sight and of paying extraordinarily careful attention at all times for fear of being truly seen. Before Castillo was one of the most celebrated poets of a generation, he was a boy who perfected his English in the hopes that he might never seem extraordinary. 

With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor. 

Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines, and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.

©2020 Marcelo Hernandez Castillo (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Children of the Land

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Phenomenal

I loved this in depth look at in immigrant's story. It's important to showcase that it's not easy to become a citizen, as well as the facets surrounding the process. For those of us who are a few generations in, who feel a bit removed from others' struggles, this gives an understanding we have lacked... until now.

23 people found this helpful

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must read.

I began reading the book and ended up finishing it through Audible. The storyline and detail of events was amazing. The narrator was ok, I felt he lacked excitement in certain moment, but overall did a good job.

17 people found this helpful

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I love this book

It was hard to finish because I could relate to the author's relationship with his father. It is beautifully written.

15 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary!

I grew up on the Texas/Mexican Border and have known many undocumented immigrants. So, I expected a story of daily fear and uncertainty. Of life-threatening Border crossing. Of crushingly arbitrary immigration bureaucracies. Even before the Trump administration.

But, this gifted poet utterly changes how you look at immigration by taking you not on one crossing, but on multiple trips back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, as he tries to piece together a family separated for more than ten years; as he tries to define what is "home". As he just tries to function.

So, he becomes the first undocumented student accepted into a prestigious creative writing program, but can't take a bus or drive. And, his mother saves everything so she can one day prove how long she has been in the U.S. trying to get a green card, but....none of that really matters.

If you are trying to understand the reality of the United States broken immigration system, this story of one family's experience is a great place to start.

The format may take a little getting used to, lots of vivid scenes, including flashbacks, within the context of four journeys. But, they are all about grappling with how you live your life when any second, a knock at the door could change everything.

9 people found this helpful

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Impactful Perspective but Flat Presentation

From the beginning of the book the tone is one of struggle and is so depressing. But that's the point and it gets it across almost relentlessly as it never stops hitting you with stories of letdown after letdown. Children of the Land is a huge eye opener into the difficult life of living between two countries who's changing rules and laws have major effects on some of the worst off members of society. This book is sad and angry. It has every right to be if even half of the stories shared are true. This is a powerful review of the real implications that the political battles that most of us only see through the media have on actual people. As a critique of the modern immigration system it is an essential point of view that can't be delivered in the headlines.

The presentation felt a bit off at times. Somehow the stories come off feeling a bit dry and that removes some of the emotional impact they could have had. It may have been some of the narration which felt a bit bland and monotone. There were a few sections where the narrator seems to be getting worked up but the content of the book required so much more than those few instances.

It felt like a book that was trying to leave you as an emotional wreck but I didn't feel that it accomplished that goal for me personally. It certainly helped to hone my views on the issue of immigration and border control, but that seems to be less than what the author hoped to get you to feel. I would have a hard time recommending this book to a friend unless they were someone I knew would be interested in the topic of immigration and this perspective would be beneficial to them.

I thought that the narration was too flat. The stories, while coming almost too quickly and not giving enough time to process, were impactful and insightful.

1 person found this helpful

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Not sure how I persisted to the end.

I am a bit confused about this book. As near as I can tell, it may be a fictional account of the author's life as it wobbles back and forth through time and place to tell the story of the main character from his family's illegal immigration to the US when he was a child, to the moment the family reaches a conclusion of sorts.

My main problem was with the narration. It was dispassionate and without breaks where it seemed to need them. Thus, I never knew where the book was going. Perhaps this is a book that wold be better if read than heard. I'll never know.

I stuck with it, but never cared much.

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borders can bar or invite people to come together

borders can bar or invite people to come together . We must decide. we are all children looking to explore and expand our horizons. we can help one another bridge these gaps or we can turn our backs on each other and fade away into our own fear and loathing s. We are nothing without the love and care we share. all we can do is try.

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Why did I finish it?

Was a very slow story and too much about self. I finished it hoping it would have improvement. Not so. Don't recommend unless you enjoy reading a boring diary.

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boring

boring, monotone, when there should have been excitement and fair it wasn't. the story isn't consistent it jumps around too much causes confusion

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don't waste your time

What of the worst books I've ever listen to and it was free just no story