Monday, January 27, 2020
With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.
Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.
When I started to read all the controversy surrounding American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, I found "alternative" books that were recommended to read instead of that book in order to understand the real experiences of undocumented people entering the US. Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is one of those books. Unlike American Dirt, which is a book of fiction, Children of the Land is a memoir.
Marcelo Hernandez is an awarding winning poet, writer and teacher. He received a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to earn an MFA from the University of Michigan. His book Children of the Land, published by Harper, will be available tomorrow at your local bookstore. On my Wishlist.