Book Review: The Line Becomes a River

Book Review: The Line Becomes a RiverThe Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
by Francisco Cantú
on February 5, 2019
Pages: 288
Published by Riverhead Books
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction

For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive.

Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.

My Takeaway
“There are days when I feel I am becoming good at what I do. And then I wonder, what does it mean to be good at this?”
Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River

I came across this book some time ago but refused to read it because it was written by a border patrol. I’m so glad I gave it a chance and picked it up (thank you @Lupita.Reads). The immigrant stories were genuine and heartfelt. As a high school registrar in Northern Virginia, I frequently encounter and meet students who have crossed the border. Although they do not tell me their stories, I know their journey to this country was risky, uncertain, and dangerous. In The Line Becomes a River, Cantú’s stories showed humanity despite numerous setbacks and tragedies. If you work with non-English individuals, or if you are interested in learning more about the border, I highly recommend this compelling memoir.

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