Border Crossing Review

imagesMaria Colleen Cruz’s realistic fiction, shows the importance of knowing and understanding your cultural identity, in order to understand where you come from and who you are.

In “Border Crossing,” even though, there are some predictable situations thanks to foreshadowing, there are several unexpected events, such as Tony turning to be Cesi’s cousin.  “Border Crossing” is a book which unfold pretty quickly, the author gets trough the whole book just giving details to specific situations, allowing her to describe the whole situation in a few pages.

As soon as you start reading Border Crossing, Maria Colleen Cruz, you immediately feel engaged.  The narrator, a 12 going to 13 year old girl, has crazy plans about crossing the border by herself, which makes you question what is going to happen? How will she accomplish that? Why would she want to go all by herself? As you continue reading, thousands of questions will pop in your head, motivating you to continue reading.

At the end of the book, Cesi learns a lot abut herself, about her Mexican culture and her father’s past. She learns that she shouldn’t be afraid to ask her parents for support or to take her to Mexico,  instead of running away. Cesi also learns that her father didn’t want to talk about his past because he didn’t’ want  her to have a hard childhood like he did, it was all a way to make her life easier, but Dad figures out after Cesi runs away, that probably hide his past to his’ kids wasn’t the best idea.

As well as Cesi learns about herself, Dad changes his dynamics.  For so long, he has hide his’ past to Max and Cesi because of the difficulties he faced when he was a kid.  He has also decided to not teach his’ kids Spanish, because a lot of the difficulties he faced were related to the language and ethnicity.  Since Cesi is a curious girl, trying to find who she is, she decides to learn about her Mexican heritage, even though it has been hidden from her for so long.  In her head, Dad wouldn’t want to take her to Mexico to find more about who she is, so she runs away by herself.  Dad find out that she has crossed the border and realizes that hide his Mexican culture to his family wasn’t a good idea, but his family later understands the reason Dad had to take the choices he did.

“Border Crossing” is narrated in an interesting way, one chapter is from the present, the next one from the past, as a flashback, then, the following in the present, and it goes the whole book like that, back and forth.  Probably, Cruz decided to tell the story in this specific way in order to give the story more drama and entertaining, since if she would have tell the story explaining all the past, and then present, probably it wouldn’t had been so engaging or entertaining.

In “Border Crossing,” you can fins several themes, but in my opinion, “Knowledge on your cultural identity is important because knowing where you come from, helps shape who you are, and contributes to the personal development” is the theme that works the best.  It shows how Cesi after knowing and understanding her Mexican heritage grows culturally and emotionally, adding to her personal development.

“I can’t believe I was that stupid, that I trusted these people.  I should have known better.”  When Cesi arrives to Mexico, except for the twenty dollars she had in her pocket, all her money was stolen.  There is a stereotype about Mexican being robbers, and when Cesi gets her money stolen, she makes tis stereotype.  This passage surprises me because Cesi is trying to know about her Mexican heritage, and even she being Mexican, makes this stereotype. When she says “these people” she is making a derogative comment on Mexicans, but later she realizes (with Tony’s help) that it was unrespectful, derogatory, and that by making that stereotype, she includes herself in “these people” since she is also Mexican.

The ending of the story is satisfying, Dad and Cesi go and visit Douglas and Nogales, important towns in Dad’s childhood, and Cesi learns a lot about her Mexican heritage thanks to aunt Delfina and Dad.  It all was an expected ending, except the fact that Tony and Cesi turn be cousins.  This is the only part of the story since in my opinion, I think its too much chance to cross the border by yourself being a 13 year old girl, then meet a boy in a train, with the same destination, and later it turns to be your cousin when you meet with his aunt  which is actually your aunt as well, but you don’t know it.  Then, after so long without seeing each other, she calls your Dad to inform him that you are in her house.

This is the first book I read by Maria Colleen Cruz, but I wouldn’t mind read other books about her.  If I had the opportunity to ask one question to the Cruz, it would be: what inspired you to write the story the way you did?

This novel has made me realize that the struggles Mexicans facing in the United States in the present, with Trump and all the deportations, did’t start a few years ago, they has been around for a long period of time.  This novel has inspired me to know more about the situation Mexicans are facing, since they are looking for better lives, and taking jobs that many people wouldn’t take.  This novel I can connect it with the situation in Panama right now, since many Panamanians complain about immigrants taking jobs, but in reality,  many people in Panama don’t want to work, and prefer that the government take care of them with indemnifications.  Additionally, in the border, there are many Cuban immigrants retained by the border patrol, since they don’t want to let them enter to Panama.