my take: I read this in preparation for the Festival of Faith and Writing. It’s a pretty serious book – a look at a border crossing gone wrong where 14 people died in the desert wasteland known as the devil’s highway.
Rather than just a straight forward telling of the events, I got a sense of the poetic: that the author had a deep respect for the desert and the power it can have over man. The man vs nature theme. But also, the man vs man theme – the nearly invisible Mexican overlords who make money off the coyote crossings.
The book gives all sides of the story, almost bringing you into the desert walking beside these dead men walking. A very interesting look at the border patrol agents. Complex. Complicated. Challenging.
I heard Mr. Urrea speak a couple of times at the Festival. Very entertaining guy. He had some great stories about writing this book. Also, he’s American and Mexican, so has a personal grasp of the situation.
my source: Festival of Faith and Writing
my verdict: poetic nonfiction. worth a read.