#12 Francisco Jiménez's "The Circuit"


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*Disclaimer:  spoiler alert.  Trust me, you won't care that I spoiled it.*

For my twelfth book, I chose The Circuit:  Stories From the Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jiménez.  This book was, well, it was a book.  It was okay.  I chose it based on the fact that it was short and I need to make up for some serious time in this challenge.  (Even though it still took me over a week to read because I've been in such a lull with reading lately!  Hopefully that will improve this winter.)

Anyway, this is a semi-autobiographical story about a family of illegal Mexican immigrants who come in to the States, written from the perspective of a child.

First complaint:  The family is living in poverty in shacks/tents/whatever on the farms that they are working for.  The dad smokes like 6 packs a day.  This pisses me off.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves that I have for families that I work with.  Do not sit there and complain about money issues while you chain smoke right in front of me.  3 packs a day?  That's $20 people.  You could FEED your entire family on that for a day, easily.  Grrrrr....

On a similar note, when the family moved to the States there were 2 children with a 3rd born shortly after.  In the span of the time that they were in the US during the book (estimating a span of maybe 7 years tops), they increased this amount to 7... SEVEN KIDS.  If you are this poor and are working for a total of $15 a day and spending $20 of that on cigarettes, HOW CAN YOU AFFORD TO FEED YOUR KIDS?!?!  GRRRRRRRR (again)!  (OH and might I add that at one point, when there were 5 kids, all 7 of the family members were sleeping on one mattress... how is that even possible?)

Another big complaint I had for this book were the random Spanish words throughout it.  I know very little Spanish and there were several words per page that were written in Spanish without explanation of what they meant.  I was able to figure some of them out (without translating) due to context, but it was a major annoyance for me.

Now, I don't condone illegal immigration.  I understand that people feel that life is better in America and that there is more opportunity for them here, but it doesn't mean it's okay.  I don't feel that it is the fault of these children that they were brought to America, and I don't necessarily feel that they should have to leave, but I do feel like the parents should know that, while they think they are making a better life for their children, they are greatly jeopardizing the childrens' success.  These kids are bounced from town to town, school to school, and sometimes are not in school at all due to work.  Every time they make a friend, they have to leave.  Every time they build a rapport with a teacher, they have to leave.  They are living in complete poverty and receive no health care.  The parents would rather let the child get as close to death as possible before getting them health care.

While reading this book, I faced a lot of the same issues I deal with every day in my job.  I get so angry.  I loved the main character, Panchito.  He seemed to be a great kid in spite of every thing he was going through.  I don't get angry at these poor kids that are going through this trauma, showing poor behaviors due to it.  I get angry at the parents.  Take care of your children. 

Anyway, I'm ranting.  I'll make sure to post a blog on my other blog, ranting more about this some time.

Oh yeah, one last thing.  This book ends with the kids being collected by immigration from their various work sites.  Like... it just ends.  In the middle of the story.  It's like he was in mid-sentence and just decided that he was done with the book.

This book is NOT RECOMMENDED.  It was interesting to read from the viewpoint of a migrant child, but at the same time it was very stereotypical and didn't hold much content for the things that most people don't already know about migrant workers.  (Or maybe I just think that since I'm in the social work field.)

First Line Teaser:  '"La Frontera" is a word I often heard when I was a child living in El Rancho Blanco, a small village nestled on barren, dry hills several miles north of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Next Up:  Elie Wiesel's Night

2 Responses to “#12 Francisco Jiménez's "The Circuit"”

  1. Why must thou "hrmphf" me?

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