Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, this astonishing story puts a human face on the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States. Now a beloved classic, this page-turner about the power of family is a popular text in classrooms and a touchstone for communities across the country to engage in meaningful discussions about this essential American subject.
Enrique’s Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. But he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers. As Isabel Allende writes: “This is a twenty-first-century Odyssey. If you are going to read only one nonfiction book this year, it has to be this one.” Now updated with a new Epilogue and Afterword, photos of Enrique and his family, an author interview, and more, this is the definitive edition of a classic of contemporary America.
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
“Magnificent . . . Enrique’s Journey is about love. It’s about family. It’s about home.”—The Washington Post Book World
“[A] searing report from the immigration frontlines . . . as harrowing as it is heartbreaking.”—People (four stars)
“Stunning . . . As an adventure narrative alone, Enrique’s Journey is a worthy read. . . . Nazario’s impressive piece of reporting [turns] the current immigration controversy from a political story into a personal one.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Gripping and harrowing . . . a story begging to be told.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“[A] prodigious feat of reporting . . . [Sonia Nazario is] amazingly thorough and intrepid.”—Newsday
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January 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario
The boy does not understand.
His mother is not talking to him. She will not even look at
him. Enrique has no hint of what she is going to do.
Lourdes knows. She understands, as only a mother can, the
terror she is about to inflict, the ache Enrique will feel, and finally
What will become of him? Already he will not let anyone
else feed or bathe him. He loves her deeply, as only a son can.
With Lourdes, he is openly affectionate. "Dame pico, mami. Give
me a kiss, Mom," he pleads, over and over, pursing his lips.
With Lourdes, he is a chatterbox. "Mira, mami. Look, Mom," he
says softly, asking her questions about everything he sees. Without
her, he is so shy it is crushing.
Slowly, she walks out onto the porch. Enrique clings to her
pant leg. Beside her, he is tiny. Lourdes loves him so much she
cannot bring herself to say a word. She cannot carry his picture.
It would melt her resolve. She cannot hug him. He is five
They live on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, in Honduras.
She can barely afford food for him and his sister, Belky, who is
seven. She's never been able to buy them a toy or a birthday
cake. Lourdes, twenty-four, scrubs other people's laundry in a
muddy river. She goes door to door, selling tortillas, used
clothes, and plantains.
She fills a wooden box with gum and crackers and cigarettes,
and she finds a spot where she can squat on a dusty sidewalk
next to the downtown Pizza Hut and sell the items to
passersby. The sidewalk is Enrique's playground.
They have a bleak future. He and Belky are not likely to finish
grade school. Lourdes cannot afford uniforms or pencils.
Her husband is gone. A good job is out of the question.
Lourdes knows of only one place that offers hope. As a
seven-year-old child, delivering tortillas her mother made to
wealthy homes, she glimpsed this place on other people's television
screens. The flickering images were a far cry from Lourdes's
childhood home: a two-room shack made of wooden slats,
its flimsy tin roof weighted down with rocks, the only bathroom
a clump of bushes outside. On television, she saw New York
City's spectacular skyline, Las Vegas's shimmering lights, Disneyland's
Lourdes has decided: She will leave. She will go to the
United States and make money and send it home. She will be
gone for one year--less, with luck--or she will bring her children
to be with her. It is for them she is leaving, she tells herself,
but still she feels guilty.
She kneels and kisses Belky and hugs her tightly. Then she
turns to her own sister. If she watches over Belky, she will get a
set of gold fingernails from el Norte.
But Lourdes cannot face Enrique. He will remember only
one thing that she says to him: "Don't forget to go to church
It is January 29, 1989. His mother steps off the porch.
She walks away.
"�D�nde est� mi mami?" Enrique cries, over and over. "Where
is my mom?"
His mother never returns, and that decides Enrique's fate.
As a teenager--indeed, still a child--he will set out for the
United States on his own to search for her. Virtually unnoticed,
he will become one of an estimated 48,000 children who enter
the United States from Central America and Mexico each year,
illegally and without either of their parents. Roughly two thirds
of them will make it past the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization