Enrique’s Journey, as the book cover sums up is “the story of a boy’s dangerous odyssey to reunite with his mother. ” It is a gripping and distressing tale about the horrific voyages immigrants risk trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. The book revolves largely around a lone child from Hondorus who starves for his mother’s affection and decides to bond with her. His mother, unfortunately, has been living in the United States for a long time. He undertakes a journey to meet her and on his way faces indescribable suffering and dangers to reach his desired destination.
When Enrique is five years old, his mother Lourdes, overwhelmed by abject poverty, unable to provide the basic necessities of life for her children, leaves Honduras to United States thinking she would make enough money to gain a respectable life in Honduras (98). Before leaving she promises her son that she will return soon. Days turn into weeks and weeks into years but Lourdes does not return as she struggles hard to make money in America. Absence of Lourdes upsets Enrique, he requests her mother to come back. When she calls, Lourdes calms him down promising she would soon return.
Eleven years later, Enrique, grief-stricken, longing for his mother’s affection, embarks upon a dreadful journey from Hondorus to the United States, he is captured and turned back several times by immigration officials but he does not lose hope and keeps struggling. He tries again, is alone and penniless but he faces and overcomes the obstacles bravely. His trip is not easy; he has to face the corrupt police, thieves and gangsters. On his way he also gets beaten up by a group of gangsters, he loses his mother’s telephone number, is left unclothed and faces extreme starvation.
Moreover, to avoid the immigration officials, Enrique has to travel on top of freight trains (Nazario 4) which the immigrants call “El Tren de la Muerte” (Nazario 69) – the Train of Death. Enrique never loses hope and with courage he finally reaches America and finds his mother. But when he discovers that his mother has a child and a family he gets hurt and decides to return back to Hondorus, where he becomes involved in drugs and alcohol. Although he is disheartened but Enrique’s spirits are still high.
He keeps trying and finally makes his way successfully to America reunites with her mother and settles there. I think Sonia Nazario has done a wonderful job by highlighting the most heated political and economic issues of our time. Enrique’s heart-wrenching odyssey was very painful, yet it must be remembered that illegal immigration into any country is not just a criminal act, it is also harmful for the prospects of the person committing this act as he puts himself into the path of danger willingly and due to his illegal status is left vulnerable at the hands of all those who take advantage of his helplessness.
The book was certainly an eye-opener for me; it provided a glimpse into a migrant’s horrific journey to the US through colorful word pictures. Nazario has done an extensive search on the topic providing proper fact and figures. She has interviewed several victims including Enrique’s family and even traveled through the “El Tren de la Muerte,” the Train of Death (Nazario 69) herself, as she wanted to come to a better and deeper understanding or the problems of immigrants and feel firsthand the perils the illegal immigrants knowingly place themselves in.
Reading this book was an enjoyable experience for me as it gave me a better understanding of immigration issues and the ordeal people face to reunite with their loved ones. The book is about a home, a family and mothers who sacrifice their lives just to acquire a better living for their children. I thought that the account of Enrique’s journey moved at a good pace but was sometimes slightly depressing and sad, particularly the passage when Enrique’s mother Lourdes is about to leave him, Enrique begs her not to depart, as she walks away “Enrique cries, Dond e esta mi mami?
Where is my mom? But his mother never returns and that decides Enrique’s fate” (Nazario 3). Another passage that I found heartbreaking was the painful reunion of Enrique with her mother; it took him “more than 12000 miles 122 days and seven futile attempts to get to his mother” (Nazario 188). The overall tone of the novel was sad but it was understandable keeping in mind the plot of the book; if Nazario had chosen a lighter tone, it would have been unsuitable.
The issue of American immigration is quite overwhelming and remains a hot controversy even today. Thousands of undocumented immigrants migrate from their homes in the quest for earning money. These steps are not easy to take as they have to suffer grave consequences that affect their families as well as themselves. It is high time the concerned immigration authorities should take effective measures to stop issues like human trafficking and illegal immigration. Why this problem does continue even today?
Who is actually responsible and to be blamed? These are the questions that arose in my mind. I think the concerned governments and their failed policies are accountable and I believe they should take strict measures to stop the fraudulent agencies that make money through deceit, preying on the innocent people just for the sake of there own personal goals. I think award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario has done an incredible job by presenting to her readers with a wonderful book which will be remembered for years to come.
I found her book to be very descriptive and detailed; she should be credited for successfully highlighting a key issue often left unnoticed and neglected. Her book serves as a forewarning to those attracted and allured by deceitful agents who promise them a bright future in America. There is still room left for debate on the weak and inadequate immigration policies even today, it should be resolved quickly to further avoid any traumatic experiences that families like Enrique’s go through.