Sonia Nazario is an American journalist, born September 8, 196O in Madison Wisconsin to Argentinian-American parents. Nazario has been one of the youngest writers to have worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. She primarily writes about social justice issues such as poverty, drugs, immigration, and Latino statistics. She has won many awards including the George Polk Award, a Pulitzer Prize Award, and the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Nazario is also the recipient of the National Association of Hispanic Journalist Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Overall Excellence.
Nazaro’s connection to the narration that she voices, mirrors that of her family’s journey. They were immigrant. Enrique’s Journey, is a national bestseller that has won more than a dozen awards thus far. I believe the author, Nazario, felt the need to tell this story because it was both a compelling story and it was also a way to bring light to the atrocities that immigrants face during their journey across and to unknown lands. Particularly, those made across Mexico to reach the U. S. border. Enrique’s Journey, by Sonia Nazario, is an account of the life of a young boy, Enrique Izaguirre, from Honduras Central America.
It is a ompelling reunification quest to the United States, to find his estranged Mother, how left him and his sister at a young age. Enrique’s mother struggles to support her young children from a foreign country. She knows that if she does not gamble the trip north she will not be able to feed, clothe or send her children to school. She knows what it is like to grow up in extreme poverty. But Enrique and his sister are too young to understand the struggles or why they were left behind. Over the years, Enrique is shuffled from one family members home to another, growing more and more resentful.
His sister attends a good school and is ell cared for; while Enrique is forced to sell food and spices on the streets in order to help pay for his and his caretaker’s expenses. According to them the moneys that his mother sends are not enough. Enrique is on the move again to another relative’s home. In the back of his mind he forms a plan. He believes that by going to find his mother all of his problems would disappear. He had lived with his paternal grandmother for most of his young life, but he begins to rebel in his teens, forcing his grandmother to kick him out.
He is then determined to find her. In the meantime, while scheming to leave, he finds a ood placement with his uncle and aunt, so he finally settles. Unfortunately, and due to rising violence in the country of Honduras and of his tiny underdeveloped village, Enrique’s uncle gets murdered. He is then shuffled yet again between relatives. Frustrated with his mother, and his issues of neglect and abandonment, Enrique turns to drugs for ease. But his initial idea that his mother’s love would ease his troubles wins out in the end.
He is determined, he will go find his mother in the U. S. Family and friends try to intrude, speaking of the dangers and lack of monies to his name, nonetheless they make ittle improvement in changing his mind. He is set on leaving to trek the thousands of miles across Mexico to get to the U. S. and to his mother. Enrique’s mother discovers that life in the U. S. was more difficult than she predicted. She worked a series of low-paying jobs, and becomes pregnant with her first US born child, a little girl who she names Diana. Money is always tight and both are lonely, hungry and poor. Eventually, she finds steady work again, and is able to send money consistently back home to Honduras.
She sends clothing, and toys for Enrique and his sister, but the gifts re no substitute for her physical presence and she knows that. But she is torn. She has no clue as to the sentiments or hardships Enrique or his sister have faced. So as more time passes of her obliviousness Enrique, who is determined, begins his journey through Central America and Mexico on his route to the United States. He is clueless of the trials that await him, but he is hopeful. During his first seven attempts, he is severely beaten, robbed, deported, and humiliated.
However, on his attempt at the dangerous journey an eighth time, Enrique’s resolve to meet his mother in the U. S. falters. To travel north, Enrique, must ride on the tops of freight trains, borrow, and beg to finally reach the U. S. /Mexican border, but Enrique is not frightened of the journey ahead. He is frightened of not being with his mother ever again. He is determined. He raises enough money to call his mother, who helps pay for smuggler to take him across the river and into the United States. After much hardship, Enrique reaches his mother and the U. S. Enrique’s idealized reunion is soon shattered by reality.
Like many children who travel north to find their parents in the U. S. , Enrique had conjured an image of his mother; and unlike the ealistic version, his mother had flaws. So his magical reunion with the mythical mother fell short. He believed that all of his troubles would go away once he found his mother, but they were still clearly there. Enrique returns to his mother a toughened man from the unconquered battlefield that was his childhood. She is not the doting mother he remembers. He uses drugs and alcohol to cope with his disappointments, and his mother is quick to judge and point out his short comings.
Some of the larger themes and messages in Enrique’s Journey are those of familial-unity, scarcity, exploitation, drugs, emotions, eelings of neglect, the “American Dream”, and lastly of Latinos and the data that surround them such as: welfare, dropouts rates, gangs, etc. These are just some of the motivations that draw many people to cross the U. S. -Mexico border, at the risk of their lives. Nazario makes sure to “humanize” immigrants in her writing by giving them a voice as she has done with Enrique in Enrique’s Journey.
Stories, and many more, such as his are deeply embedded in the “community memory” of many families across the country and internationally, as this is the story of many immigrant people whose voices go unheard. Many spects of Enrique’s Journey contribute to collective or shared memories of the border, of living in the borderlands, and of going to school in the United States. These border tales suggest that one’s proximity to and the overall experience with the border, effects the migrants’ identity in profound ways.
Effects such as in or within: Family, Socioeconomic Status, alienation, distance, sentiments, residual sentiments after the reunions, and for many, secrets of the journey (resilience) and an agony in silence (pride). I believe that it is important for teachers of ELL and ESL students to be familiar with border issues, including mmigration, English only schooling, contradictory belief or laws, identity, poverty, alienation, as well as resilience and pride because of the FOK and the “backpack” that marks us all as individuals.
Think of the “backpack” as what we bring forward in it, or the “community memory” often mentioned as we Latinos (and human kid alike) unite with similar stories as we are all social beings. That is what the author Sonia Nazario does in her narrative of Enrique’s Journey. She exposes the harsh realities of immigration. In many ways, her own perspective and Enrique’s are one. She suggests that the separation between a other and her child, as experienced by Lourdes and Enrique, are not beneficial in the long run to maintain the family nuclei.
But poverty and corruption run amuck in third world countries such as Honduras in Central America. Feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration lead to lasting emotional damage and misunderstandings, which often lead to drugs as well. The dangling of the American Dream if front of those who cannot reach it if frustrating leading to find other “families” in gangs making Latinos once again fall part to the statistics that surround them such as welfare, school dropouts, etc.