When I picked up my review copy of THE SAME SKY, by Amanda Eyre Ward, I had no idea what it was about, nor did I realize how it would move me, at times to tears.
Carla is a thirteen-year- old girl living in Honduras with her grandmother and her four-year old twin brothers. Their mother has fled to America to make a better life for them all. And then Carla’s mother sends a “coyote” to bring back one of the twins (all that she can afford). And we begin to see where this is going. The term “coyote” is used to describe a person hired to bring someone into the U.S. illegally. They are usually ruthless and without scruples. When Carla’s grandmother passes away, Carla decides she must come up with a plan to get her remaining brother, Junior, and herself to Texas, where her mother is.
Alice and her husband run a very successful BBQ restaurant in Austin, Texas. Their lives seem ideal. However, they are dealing with their own demons. Alice had cancer before she married Jake. And this awful disease has rendered her infertile. Of course a baby is the only thing she feels her life is in need of. They have tried everything, and even adoption has failed them, so far.
This amazing story heats up and breaks into flames as Carla and Junior set out on their illegal journey across Mexico, to Texas. They are aided by a young gang member who has taken them under his wing. The harshness of their journey is immediate and raw. And never gets easy.
This is a story I am familiar with. We have a family member who came from El Salvador years ago. Her story is harrowing, to say the least. Ward has done her research and much of this novel is based on fact. It is unfortunate that that is so. To realize there are countries in Central America that are so full of violence and drugs, starvation and peril, is unconscionable to most of us here. This past year the news has shown us some of the trials of these people. But it is even worse than it seems.
Ward presents us with a tortuous journey that many people, many mere children, have travailed. They had a choice. They could stay in their ravaged countries and turn to drugs or starve, or, plunge ahead and take their chances, coming to America.
Most of the immigrants who come to America from Central and South America work menial jobs doing whatever it takes and send most of the money they earn back home to the even less fortunate family members who have no jobs and very little to eat. There are no jobs in these countries, and without the money from America, surely they would starve. Countries like Honduras and El Salvador are rife with gangs and murder. Human beings deserve more.
I found myself having a hard time keeping up with the page turning. I was so worried about Carla. And I felt Alice’s pain. Even though the story has a poignant ending, it is disturbing and sad. This is a story that needed to be told. It is a story of many people.
I received my my review copy from Ballantine Books, a division of Penguin/Random House. I am so grateful!