cover image Beast Rider: A Boy’s Journey Across the Border

Beast Rider: A Boy’s Journey Across the Border

Tony Johnston and María Elena Fontanot de Rhoads. Amulet, $17.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3363-5

In this often wrenching story about Manuel, a 12-year-old boy from Oaxaca, Mexico, the authors convey what motivates him to leave his poverty-stricken life to ride “the Beast” (a train heading to the U.S. border) and the hardships he faces during the journey and upon arrival. Told in short, action-packed chapters and in Manuel’s distinctive first-person, present-tense voice, the compact tale covers long miles and several years. The brutal narration details constant movement and determined forward motion, despite daunting setbacks: “Here I am on this terror train thundering to The North. I am hungry. I am thirsty. I am tired.... Though crushed against many other people, I am lonely to the bone.” Manuel encounters dishonesty, theft, cruelty, gang brutality, and mercenaries, as well as kind strangers, healers, protectors, and friends. Upon his reunion in Los Angeles with his beloved brother, Manuel’s traumatic experiences haunt and hinder his ability to adapt to his new home. Johnston (Bone by Bone by Bone) and de Rhoads (a psychotherapist and debut author) offer a sympathetic, illuminating portrait of the challenges faced by one undocumented immigrant. Ages 12–up. [em](Mar.) [/em]