...searing ... A rich, novelistic tale ... In an endnote, he writes that his book 'occupies a space between journalism and ethnography, with a dash of oral history and biography.' I don’t know much about the professional rules of ethnography, but some of Bobrow-Strain’s methods are outside of normal journalistic practice ... There’s something admirable in Bobrow-Strain’s approach ... Bobrow-Strain seems determined to avoid the ethical pitfalls inherent in making other people’s lives into literary material. In doing so, though, he requires readers to take a lot on faith ... If the book rings true, it’s because Aida is such a complex and imperfect figure; she is not whom you’d invent if you wanted to write a social justice parable ... When, in one of the book’s most dramatic moments, she wins herself a reprieve that enables her to return to her family, I cried with happiness ... The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez is an illuminating work of literature, not an ideological tract. The story of Aida’s life doesn’t have to prove a point to have value.
The author’s tone, coupled with the overall narrative execution, shakes off the objective lens typically required of straightforward journalism. Bobrow-Strain is equal parts sympathetic and unabashedly honest in his re-creation of Aida’s life, seamlessly blending the intimate details of memoir into the historical and political context of U.S. immigration policies ... While Aida’s story is not meant to serve as the sole representation of life as an undocumented immigrant, it’s a sharp portrait of a country where equality is designed only for those deemed worthy.
Bobrow-Strain... tells the dramatic true tale of a woman he calls Aida Hernandez with extraordinary clarity and power, while also providing deep background on the forces behind the tragically unjust immigration laws and procedures she battled ... Bobrow-Strain’s searing chronicle of Aida’s struggles to secure legal residency include the illuminating stories of her father, a 1960s revolutionary; social worker Rosie Mendoza; and Ema, a lesbian Ecuadoran immigrant. In this caring and unforgettable borderland saga, Bobrow-Strain reveals the profound personal toll of the immigration crisis.