Archive for October 2010

#12 Francisco Jiménez's "The Circuit"


*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

#11 Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"


Okay, so I know I am now notorious for not reading what I say I am going to read but I can't help myself.  This was a book club selection, so again, I may not post much about it here, but I will say a bit!  :)  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was not conducive to my challenge.  At nearly 600 pages, I could have read 3-4 books in that amount of time!  However, it was a VERY good book.

This book has an interesting setting.  It has the elements of being an investigative journalism novel, a suspenseful "find the murderer" novel, as well as a psychological thriller, all tied up into one neatly well-written book!

I rather enjoyed this book.  It starts out very slowly but after the first 2-3 chapters, it picks up pretty quickly and sucks you in.  It is by no means a "fast" read, but I got through it pretty quickly because I didn't really want to put it down.  I will say also, this book is not for the faint of heart.  There are a few rather graphic sexual scenes in the book, that you really can't "unread", if you know what I mean.  That aside, it brings in an extra element of suspense and while the perversion is real and intense, it also makes you want to know more about the characters involved as well as their backgrounds.

My only real complaint with this book is that there are parts of it that seemed to drag on.  While one of the main goals of the characters is to uncover the dirty deeds of a local businessman; I feel that the real story was found within the personal relationships of the characters in the novel.  This being said, I feel that there was a lot of unnecessary information surrounding the "Wennerstrom Affair", as it is referred to in the novel, and other information regarding unveiling all of Wennerstrom's negative deeds, as opposed to what I really wanted to read about:  The Love Triangle... (or maybe I should say Quadrangle, or Quint...angle?  What am I even saying anymore?)  This is not a love story in any way, shape, or form... but that element is there.  I guess I'm just saying that I was more interested in that (as well as everything within the Vanger family).

I apologize, I know this is vague and if you haven't read it, you have no idea what I'm talking about.  Like I said though, it's a book club selection!  Perhaps I will write more thoughts later, but let's face it... probably not.  :-(

This book is RECOMMENDED!

First line teaser:  "It happened every year, was almost a ritual."

Next up:  The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez