cover image Children of the Land: A Memoir

Children of the Land: A Memoir

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Harper, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-282559-9

Poet Castillo (Cenzontle) opens this impressionistic memoir of growing up as an undocumented immigrant with a gripping flashback to when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the then-teen’s family home in Marysville, Calif. “We never opened our door or windows again,” he writes, even though it was Castillo’s father, long-since deported, the agents sought. Moving forward to 2014, a provision of the “Dreamers” program allowed the 25-year-old Castillo and his wife, Rubi, to return to Tepechitlán, Mexico, for a bittersweet visit with his father, who was still hoping to return to the U.S. During the roller-coaster ride of the next two years, Castillo received his American visa, but his father failed to return north (“We were still trying to cross, still moving in maddening helplessness, a revolving door without an exit”), and his mother moved back to Tepechitlán to be with her husband. Throughout, Castillo examines other borders and boundaries in his life, including being bisexual and bilingual. Additionally, he writes of the difficulties reconciling his professional achievements as a creative writing teacher with his family’s struggles (“That was my new job, to read and write... and I didn’t think I deserved that kind of comfort”). Castillo writes with disturbing candor, depicting the all-too-common plight of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. (Jan.)