by Francisco Jimenez
Recent Additions to the Blue Ridge Literacy Council's Library include these books written by Francisco Jimenez; The Circuit, Breaking Through, and Reaching Out.
Jimenez has created a moving autobiography that some critics have compared to John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. The story, originally published in English as The Circuit, begins in Mexico when the author is very young and his parents inform him that they are going on a very long trip to 'El Norte.' What follows is a series of stories of the family's unending migration from one farm to another as they search for the next harvesting job. Each story is told from the point of view of the author as a young child. The simple and direct narrative stays true to this perspective, never falling into moralistic or cliched patterns. The backbreaking work and the soul-crushing effect of the endless packing and moving are portrayed through a child's dismay at having to leave a school where he has just gotten comfortable or, worse, having to miss several months of a school year in order to work. Panchito's desire to help his family by working in the fields often clashes with his academic yearning. In this case, as in the case of many Mexican migrant farm workers, the American dream never comes to fruition. Lifting the story up from the mundane, Jimenez deftly portrays the strong bonds of love that hold this family together. An afterword recorded by the author gives even more background on his family. Vargas's narration offers an authentic and strong Mexican voice. (From Publishers Weekly)