A prize-winning poet writes about growing up undocumented in the United States, recounting the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and the one young man’s attempt to build a future in a nation that denies his existence.
It takes an intimate account like Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s memoir, Children of the Land, to refocus our attention on what matters when discussing immigration reform—i.e., the person and their family ... Castillo shares with lyrical prose his family’s experience of hiding in plain sight and continually being separated by internal and external forces. He carefully balances multiple timelines, sweeping readers back and forth between past and present ... Castillo gets us so close to the struggle of living without a home and a fluctuating identity that he achieves a universal truth in his private experience ... Another one of Castillo’s gifts, along with sliding readers into his life with a selfless touch, is his ability to enter another’s perspective ... Castillo writes missing pages of humanity into the history books of immigration.
...a harrowing, heartfelt memoir about life in the interstitial spaces between countries, languages, cultures and identities ... The beauty of Children of the Land is that it’s a unique, personal narrative that is also universal. Hernandez Castillo writes candidly about his struggle to get a green card, the process of learning to cope with perpetual displacement ... This memoir is as timely as it is uncomfortable to read. Hernandez Castillo places readers on unstable ground and keeps them there. He writes bluntly and poetically ... Children of the Land bravely and honestly illuminates a world rarely written about with such liveliness.
In short chapters traversing time and space, Castillo writes of his childhood as an undocumented immigrant before DACA was implemented, presenting a powerful, kaleidoscopic arrangement of history and thought. In the lead up to Castillo's own border crossings as an adult with green card status, readers meet multiple generations of his family. While the border is the site of recurring traumas, Castillo manages to draw uncanny powers of observation from its presence in his life ... In large part an attempt to answer the question of how to create a landscape of memories divorced from spectacle, this inventively rendered memoir provides an intimate, important look at the immigrant experience, family and intergenerational trauma, and coping with the ongoing presence of uncertainty in one's life.