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Children of the Land
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Published:
Harper 2020
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Description

An NPR Best Book of the Year

A 2020 International Latino Book Award Finalists

An Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of the Year

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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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/28/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062825605
ASIN:
B07RB1GJGZ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. (2020). Children of the Land. Harper.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. 2020. Children of the Land. Harper.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Children of the Land. Harper, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Children of the Land. Harper, 2020. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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        Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018), winner of the 2019 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in poetry, a finalist for the Norther California Book Award and named a best book of 2018 by NPR and the New York Public Library. As one of the founders of the Undocupoets campaign, he is a recipient of the Barnes and Noble "Writers for Writers" Award. He holds a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, People Magazine, and PBS Newshour, among others. He lives in Marysville, California where he teaches poetry to incarcerated youth and also teaches at the Ashland University Low-Res MFA program.

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shortDescription

An NPR Best Book of the Year

A 2020 International Latino Book Award Finalists

An Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of the Year

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...

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title
Children of the Land
fullDescription

An NPR Best Book of the Year

A 2020 International Latino Book Award Finalists

An Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of the Year

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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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
      • content: "This moving memoir is the document of a life without documents, of belonging to two countries yet belonging to neither. Hernandez Castillo has created his own papers fashioned from memory and poetry. His motherland is la madre tierra, his life a history lesson for our times."
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times
      • content: "In this courageous memoir, Castillo lays bare his emotional truths with remarkable intimacy and insight. Ever the poet, Castillo can't resist a lyrical stroke here and there, like when he describes arriving in Mexico 'the same way as the light entered the rosary, and when we departed the corridors of its prisms, we did so no longer wholly intact either, a little broken.' The same outcome awaits the reader who encounters this book."
      • premium: False
      • source: Entertainment Weekly
      • content: "The award-winning poet turns to memoir with the devastating account of his family's immigration to the U.S., from terrifying encounters with ICE offers to his father's ultimate deportation."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: "Castillo writes with disturbing candor, depicting the all-too-common plight of undocumented immigrants to the U.S."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist (starred review)
      • content: "Castillo uses his prodigious poetic craft to plumb each family member's odyssey through the U.S. immigration system...and to describe the raw emotion and pain experienced while...living under a cloud of uncertainty and fear. In the tortured dynamic that plays out in his cross-border family, Castillo lays bare the inherent unfairness and high psychological toll of the current immigration system on people in both the U.S. and Mexico."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: Honest and unsparing, this book offers a detailed look at the dehumanizing immigration system that shattered the author's family while offering a glimpse into his own deeply conflicted sense of what it means to live the so-called American dream. < A heartfelt and haunting memoir just right for the current political and social climate.
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 15, 2019
        An acclaimed Mexican-born poet's account of the sometimes-overwhelming struggles he and his parents faced in their quest to become American citizens. Hernandez Castillo (Cenzontle, 2018, etc.) first came to the United States with his undocumented Mexican parents in 1993. But life in the shadows came at a high price. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided their home on multiple occasions and eventually deported the author's father back to Mexico. In this emotionally raw memoir, Hernandez Castillo explores his family's traumas through a fractured narrative that mirrors their own fragmentation. Of his own personal experiences, he writes, "when I came undocumented to the U.S., I crossed into a threshold of invisibility." To protect himself against possible identification as an undocumented person, he excelled in school and learned English "better than any white person, any citizen." When he was old enough to work, he created a fake social security card to apply for the jobs that helped him support his fatherless family. After high school, he attended college and married a Mexican American woman. He became an MFA student at the University of Michigan and qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed him to visit his father in Mexico, where he discovered the depth of his cultural disorientation. Battling through ever present anxiety, the author revisited his and his parents' origins and then returned to take on the difficult interview that qualified him for a green card. His footing in the U.S. finally solidified, Hernandez Castillo unsuccessfully attempted to help his father and mother qualify for residency in the U.S. Only after his father was kidnapped by members of a drug cartel was the author able to help his mother, whose life was now in danger, seek asylum in the U.S. Honest and unsparing, this book offers a detailed look at the dehumanizing immigration system that shattered the author's family while offering a glimpse into his own deeply conflicted sense of what it means to live the so-called American dream. A heartfelt and haunting memoir just right for the current political and social climate.

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from November 11, 2019
        Poet Castillo (Cenzontle) opens this impressionistic memoir of growing up as an undocumented immigrant with a gripping flashback to when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the then-teen’s family home in Marysville, Calif. “We never opened our door or windows again,” he writes, even though it was Castillo’s father, long-since deported, the agents sought. Moving forward to 2014, a provision of the “Dreamers” program allowed the 25-year-old Castillo and his wife, Rubi, to return to Tepechitlán, Mexico, for a bittersweet visit with his father, who was still hoping to return to the U.S. During the roller-coaster ride of the next two years, Castillo received his American visa, but his father failed to return north (“We were still trying to cross, still moving in maddening helplessness, a revolving door without an exit”), and his mother moved back to Tepechitlán to be with her husband. Throughout, Castillo examines other borders and boundaries in his life, including being bisexual and bilingual. Additionally, he writes of the difficulties reconciling his professional achievements as a creative writing teacher with his family’s struggles (“That was my new job, to read and write... and I didn’t think I deserved that kind of comfort”). Castillo writes with disturbing candor, depicting the all-too-common plight of undocumented immigrants to the U.S.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2019

        Poet and activist Castillo's artistic family memoir takes place largely away from the U.S.-Mexico border, but in a social and emotional world where the border is always present. 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. VERDICT 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.--Sierra Dickey, Ctr. for New Americans, Northampton, MA

        Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from December 1, 2019
        Prize-winning poet (Cenzontle, 2018) Castillo's memoir begins with a surprise visit from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers who explode into his Saturday morning of cartoons and a bowl of Trix. From that initial trauma, the author careens through his life story, bouncing from one pivotal moment to the next. From being smuggled into the U.S. as a child to his father's deportation back to Tepechitl�n, Zacatecas, and his and his mother's green-card application processes, Castillo creates a nonchronological structure of five grand movements, each divided into bite-sized sections that are quickly read but not so easily digested. He keeps the narrative nimble by breaking up the sections in unexpected ways with numbered lists, footnotes, and italicized conversations. Castillo uses his prodigious poetic craft to plumb each family member's odyssey through the U.S. immigration system and its Kafkaesque and labyrinthine illogic and to describe the raw emotion and pain experienced while battering against the cold shoulder of bureaucracy and living under a cloud of uncertainty and fear. In the tortured dynamic that plays out in his cross-border family, Castillo lays bare the inherent unfairness and high psychological toll of the current immigration system on people in both the U.S. and Mexico.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

awards
      • source: Notable Books Council
      • value: Notable Books for Adults
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1099
publisher
Harper
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