I knew almost nothing about this book when I saw it was recommended for me on NetGalley. I downloaded it on a whim and started reading it when I was too lazy to pick up an actual book from my bookcase. But boy, this was really excellent, so I’m glad I did pick it up.
One moment changed their lives forever.
A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.
Crack. Crack. Crack.
Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.
Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families’ murders have put out a reward for the teens’ capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape…
The border between Mexico and the US is something I know next to nothing about. I have little to no knowledge of what life is like for those that live on the Mexican border, the drug gangs, or what life is like for Mexicans, and this book really opened my eyes. A week-long trek across a harrowing desert, fleeing gunmen who’ve put a price on their heads, and and trying to survive in the searing heat is something I can barely conceive. But Schafer does an excellent job of putting the reader in the desert with these scared kids.
Gladys and Marcos and Pato and Arbo are two mismatched pairs who don’t even really like each other, but are thrown together by unfortunate (understatement) circumstance and forced to work together, or risk that none of them will survive.
Tense, taut, high-stakes, and always sympathetic, the contrast between these kids fleeing death and destruction and the casual holidaymakers they meet from the US is stark in highlighting the difference a few hundred kilometres of birthplace can make to your life.
The Border was an excellent book – I could practically feel the heat of the desert emanating from it, and I was entirely caught up in Pato, Arbo, Glady, and Marcos’s struggle to survive. Not knowing who to trust (trusting nobody) and struggling across the desert in search of a better world, I was utterly captivated by this chilling (ironically) and still somewhat heart-warming pilgrimage.