Children of the Land

Children of the Land Details

This unforgettable memoir from a prize-winning poet about growing up undocumented in the United States recounts the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and chronicles one young man’s attempt to build a future in a nation that denies his existence.

“You were not a ghost even though an entire country was scared of you. No one in this story was a ghost. This was not a story.”

When Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was five years old and his family was preparing to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, he suffered temporary, stress-induced blindness. Castillo regained his vision, but quickly understood that he had to move into a threshold of invisibility before settling in California with his parents and siblings. Thus began a new life of hiding in plain sight and of paying extraordinarily careful attention at all times for fear of being truly seen. Before Castillo was one of the most celebrated poets of a generation, he was a boy who perfected his English in the hopes that he might never seem extraordinary.

With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.

Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.

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Title:Children of the Land
ISBN:9780062825605
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    Children of the Land Reviews

  • Karen (idleutopia_reads)

    A boy almost loses his life when a horse is startled, a man discovers he is bisexual long after marrying his high school sweetheart, a man wishes to wait a while before getting his papers because he i...

  • Paris (parisperusing)

    No rating at this time. I'm going to make room for this one later. My focus is waning — it's definitely not the story, which is beautifully-written; however, it is the size. Tomes scare me, but I'll...

  • Ella

    I don't like writing reviews. I don't read books to have something to say about them (stole that from a book I read recently) but b/c I want to read them. However, this memoir has pushed me to conside...

  • Julia Kardon

    Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, and if you haven't read his poetry, you should also do that. But the unbelievable beauty of his verse is present here in his prose, as he lays bare the often Kafk...

  • Kathleen Gray

    Amazing, sad, and important. This tale of immigration and a family that simply wants a better life is hard to read in parts because it's true. No doubt we're all familiar with the broad outlines of th...

  • Jan Priddy

    I thank the publishers of this memoir for my "proof" copy. It is beautiful, painful, abstract—a memoir in lyric poetry expanded to fill the pages. I cannot read it all right now. I tried to do the m...

  • Kyle Smith

    I already look forward to reading this again. Beautiful, important, and intriguing....

  • Roof Beam Reader (Adam)

    Suggestion: Read this instead of American Dirt....

  • Lynn

    I have mixed feelings about this book. A poet, Castillo's prose is broken into short story-like segments that jump back and forth between his childhood, his parent's narrative, and his recent experien...

  • Kyra Johnson

    Children of the Land is a beautifully written memoir by poet Marcelo Hernandez Castillo where he recounts coming of age as an undocumented immigrant in America. Castillo’s family made the journey ac...