PURA BELPRÉ HONOR BOOK
ALA NOTABLE BOOK
“Powerful and timely.” —Booklist (starred review)
“An important, must-have addition to the growing body of literature with immigrant themes.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous and life-changing journey from his home in Guatemala to live with his older brother in the United States in this gripping and realistic middle grade novel.
Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead.
Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime fears that he is next. There’s only one choice: accompanied by his cousin Ángela, Jaime must flee his home to live with his older brother in New Mexico.
Inspired by true events, The Only Road is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life. It is a story of fear and bravery, love and loss, strangers becoming family, and one boy’s treacherous and life-changing journey.
About the Author
Alexandra Diaz is the author of The Only Road, which was a Pura Belpré Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and the recipient of two starred reviews. She is also the author of Of All the Stupid Things, which was an ALA Rainbow List book and a New Mexico Book Award finalist, The Crossroads, and Santiago’s Road Home. Alexandra is the daughter of Cuban refugees and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but got her MA in writing for young people at Bath Spa University in England. A native Spanish speaker, Alexandra now teaches creative writing to adults and teens. Visit her online at Alexandra-Diaz.com.
Terrorized and threatened by a local drug gang, a 12-year-old boy and his 15-year-old cousin flee their Guatemalan village and seek refuge in the United States. . . . Crossing into Mexico after a nighttime getaway, Jaime and Ángela meet fellow runaway teens, each with different reasons for fleeing home. Their passage, nevertheless, proves treacherous for everyone, child or adult. . . . Though Jaime and Ángela's story features dizzying acts of violence and abuse, Diaz explores such complex, grim matters with great care. The author's use of third-person narration situates readers at a distance from the horrors that assail the protagonists while at the same time allowing opportunities to dig into Jaime's grief during crucial moments. It's Jaime's sorrow over Miguel's death that best defines Diaz's novel, reminding readers of the real-life struggles afflicting many Latin American immigrants every day.
— Kirkus Reviews
Powerful and timely.
Jaime’s first person perspective enables readers to begin to comprehend the realities of undocumented youth immigration, its underlying causes, and the sacrifices and hardships made to reach safety in the United States. An important, must-have addition to the growing body of literature with immigrant themes.
— School Library Journal (STARRED)