cover image My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration from the Front Lines

My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration from the Front Lines

Efrén C. Olivares. Hachette, $29 (320p) ISBN 978-0-306-84728-8

In this powerful debut, human rights lawyer Olivares braids reflections on growing up as a Mexican immigrant with a stirring account of his experience representing immigrant parents separated from their children as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy in 2018. In the 1990s, Olivares was separated from his father for four years, when his father migrated to the U.S. But as he points out, his family’s “ ‘privilege’ of choosing to be apart” while his father sought a better life for them in Texas was a starkly different situation from that of the hundreds of immigrant families he fought for in McAllen, Tex., who had their separations forced upon them by the Border Patrol. Bringing their testimonies to the fore alongside searing analyses of America’s immigration policies, Olivares recounts case after case of brutality and desperation, underscoring how “notions of due process, justice, equality before the law, all fall apart at the border.” “This problem that has happened,” said one woman who’d spent weeks apart from her family, “can never be erased.” As Olivares contemplates his own assimilation into American society, he builds an affecting case against the U.S.’s treatment of those with “deeper skins... darker hair,” while humanizing their stories in a brilliant light. This urgent look at an ongoing crisis galvanizes and informs in equal measure. (July)