Book review: The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez — by Aaron Bobrow-Strain

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The border between Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico was established in 1854, but then, in 1965, Lyndon Johnson ushered in extensive immigration policy that sounded fair — every country would receive 20,000 U.S. immigration visas — and issues began to arise. Up until that point, there was a well-established and orderly back-and-forth flow of nearly 250,000-500,000 Mexican migrants, all with legal status to work in the U.S. According to Bobrow-Strain, there was no “explosion” of illegal border crossings in the late 1970s, but rather what was once routine was now restricted and heavily enforced. This book, a cross between “journalistic nonfiction and ethnography,” as described by the author in the last chapter, tells the story of Aida Hernandez, whose life, and death, played out in these border towns, is marked by trauma; her family; and Rosie Mendoza, her social worker, and relies on their memories, collected through hours and hours of interviews and research to corroborate their claims, to recreate the culture and people that informed their world. The work is backed up with copious notes, a glossary of Spanish terms used in the text, and an explanation of terminology. It’s a fascinating real-life account of the status of the border, a must-read in this current debate.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury
10 more books on border security
The Devil’s Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea
The Line Becomes a River, by Francisco Cantu
Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O’Rourke & Susie Byrd
Walls and Mirrors, by David Gregory Gutiérrez
The Land of Open Graves, by Jason De León
The Gringo Champion, by Aura Xilonen
Retablos, by Octavio Solis
Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, by Sandra Cisneros
The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto Urrea

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