Across a Hundred Mountains is a stunning and poignant story of migration, loss, and discovery as two women -- one born in Mexico, one in the United States -- find their lives joined in the most unlikely way.
After a tragedy separates her from her mother, Juana García leaves her small town in Mexico to find her father, who left his home and family two years before to find work in America, el otro lado, and rise above the oppressive poverty so many of his countrymen endure.
Out of money and in need of someone to help her across the border, Juana meets Adelina Vasquez, a young woman who left her family in California to follow her lover to Mexico. Finding each other -- in a Tijuana jail -- in desperate circumstances, they offer each other much needed material and spiritual support and ultimately become linked forever in the most unexpected way.
The phenomenon of Mexican immigration to the United States is one of the most controversial issues of our time. While it is often discussed in terms of the political and economic implications, Grande, with this brilliant debut novel and her own profound insider's perspective, puts a human face on the subject. Who are the men, women, and children whose lives are affected by the forces that propel so many to risk life and limb, crossing the border in pursuit of a better life?
Take the journey Across a Hundred Mountains and see.
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June 21, 2006
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Excerpt from Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande
"That's your father's grave," the old man repeated, in a voice that was barely audible. He'd been silent most of the crossing. When he had to speak at all, he did so softly, as if this place was as holy as church.
The U.S. border.
Adelina looked at the large pile of rocks he was pointing to. The old man had to be mistaken. Her father wasn't under there. He couldn't be.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. Then she used her hand as a shield to cover her eyes from the glare of the sun. She took a few steps forward until she was in the shadow of a boulder towering above them and the pile of rocks.
Could her father really be buried there
She gulped. Her mouth was dry, and swallowing made her throat ache, as if she were swallowing a prickly pear, spines and all. She felt tears burning her eyes and quickly rubbed them dry.
"It's not too late to turn around and go back," the old man said. "Maybe it would be best."
Adelina took a deep breath, then turned to look at the sea of shrub and cactus stretching out around her. The terrain seemed to never end. It had taken almost all day to get here. They hadn't been caught by the immigration patrol this time.
She looked back at the old man. He must have been a good coyote back in the day when he was young and agile. Even now, with sixty years on his back, a bad eye, and a lame knee, he'd managed to get her past the ever-watching eyes of la migra on their second attempt.
"We can turn around now," the old man said again. "You've seen his grave, let that be enough."
Adelina shook her head and began to walk down to the pile. "I didn't come to see a grave," she said as she took off her backpack. "I came to find my father, and I will take him with me, even if I have to carry his bones on my back."
The old man looked at her with surprise. Adelina didn't look at his good brown eye. Instead, she looked at his left eye, the one with the blue film over it. She had discovered that this was the only way she could make the old man look away. The old man looked back at the rocks and said nothing.
Yet Adelina knew what he was thinking. She had lied to him. She had not told him she was planning to dig up the body and, if it really was her father, take him back with her. He would not have brought her here had she told him this.