Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Border by Steve Schafer

The Border. Steve Schafer. Sourcebooks. September 2017. 360 pp. ISBN#: 9781492646839.

Imagine going to a “quincinera,” a 15th birthday party in a small Mexican town, which turns into a mass murder scene!  When it’s all over, three young men and a young woman are the remaining survivors who know that drug gang members or narcos have wiped out their entire family!

It’s a quick, brutal beginning and the reader would think that anything that follows is anticlimactic but the journey these youths are about to undertake “to the north” is anything but sedate.  Marcos and Gladys are siblings, and Pato and Arbo are cousins.  Marcos is a strong but shady character.  He’s obviously not always telling the truth but he knows more about the dangerous situation they are attempting to escape.  Gladys is a vulnerable young girl whose brother is very protective of her.  Pato and Arbo are simple guys who seem to be having the hardest time dealing with the memories.  One of the guys wonders over and over if he could have prevented the disaster if he had spoken about the suspicious looking car parked outside of the party. 

The journey begins with a phenomenal car chase in which Marcos’s ability to use a gun saves them from immediate capture.  But then they must deal with serious physical problems from a cactus plant, rattlesnakes, and the devastating effect of being dehydrated.  The desert is a brutal, merciless place where the furnace-like heat parches them all to exhaustion.

Snippets of memories fill the moments while they travel, juxtaposing the life-threatening present situation in which they now find themselves.  When it’s all done, they know they will have each other’s backs forever!

The Border is a starkly realistic story about immigrants seeking asylum in America, Mexicans who are not criminals or evil people.  Indeed, this scenario is probably true for the majority of those escaping brutal regimes or criminals in many countries.  It certainly forces the reader to rethink the reality that so contrasts with political statements presently being touted and certainly forms a laudatory background for those fighting the effort to stop immigration with a blanket law that ignores life and death decisions calling for phenomenal courage and action!

Recommended reading, indeed! Food for soul-searching thought!

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