cover image Santiago’s Road Home

Santiago’s Road Home

Alexandra Diaz. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4623-6

Following 12-year-old Santiago, Diaz (The Only Road) gives voice to a young refugee who overcomes tremendous obstacles to cross the border from Mexico into the United States, only to be trapped in a detention center. Forced from his aunt’s home, Santiago scrounges for food rather than return to his abusive grandmother. When a woman and her young daughter offer him sustenance and kindness, he asks to accompany them across the border. Sensing that he is trustworthy, they agree. While the book’s first half depicts the numerous dangers they survive together, leading up to a harrowing journey across the desert, the second half shares Santiago’s disconcerting experiences after being forcibly separated from his companions; crowded into a stark, chilly room with teenage boys; and monitored by unsympathetic guards. While kind staff offer comfort, months of bleak daily existence and an uncertain future undermine Santiago’s natural resilience. Basing Santiago’s story on well-documented experiences, Diaz’s crucial narrative shines a disconcerting light on the plight of children in U.S. detention centers along the southern border. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (May) [/em]