MixedThe Washington Post[Theroux\'s] observations about the autonomous regions governed by Mayan Zapatistas are especially vivid ... Such revelations give this work its value, along with the fact that — as the best-selling author of 51 books — Theroux may have the star power to persuade someone who might not otherwise read a book about Mexico to do so and (the big hope) to care about its people ... Readers who already love Mexico, however, may have trouble making it past the fourth page...That’s right. An author deemed worthy of a gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society feels \'shunned, snubbed, overlooked, taken for granted, belittled, mocked, faintly laughable, stereotypical, no longer interesting, parasitical, invisible to the young\' and therefore \'much like the Mexican\' because — wait for it! — he had recently turned 76. We speak in literature about books having a \'central conceit,\' but this is ridiculous ... And the narcissism doesn’t stop there ... [Theroux] lays out his credentials, dropping the titles of his previous works whenever possible and quoting from them at length ... Equally unnerving is how Theroux attributes his own freedoms to happenstance...Theroux isn’t a beneficiary of luck but of privilege. There is a difference ... And yet, it is poignant when Theroux chides the master artist Francisco Toledo for calling himself old. They are the same age, and Toledo just died in September. Theroux seems worried this is his swan story, and he extracts such life-affirming joy from the road that you hope it keeps unfurling before him and, even more, that the wonderful people he writes about would be so graciously received during their own journeys to El Norte.
PositiveThe Texas Observer\"His subsequent confessions take the form of vignettes that range in length from a paragraph to several pages and mimic the desert landscape he patrols: haunting but elegant, with glimmers of humor for reprieve ... emotional ambiguity is the book’s chief flaw ... Call it soul-repair, call it atonement, but it is quenching indeed when Cantú turns this empathetic tide back to the migrants in the final section of the book ... The lines on the map have morphed into a river that nearly drowns him. The achievement of this book is how deftly Cantú reels us in, cold and wet behind him.\