The Line Becomes A River

Author(s): Francisco Cantú


The instant New York Times bestseller, "A must-read for anyone who thinks 'build a wall' is the answer to anything." --Esquire

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 goes behind the headlines, making urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line


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"One of the perks of being a writer is you get sent proofs of books. Most are not for me but occasionally you get sent a gem. The Line Becomes a River is such a book. It is stunningly good. Beautiful, smart, raw, sad, poetic and humane... It's the best thing I've read for ages" -- James Rebanks, author of THE SHEPHERD'S LIFE "[A] must-read memoir ... Cantu's skill as a writer proves an equal match for his material. A digestible account of US and Mexico relations, a nuanced portrait of Mexican cultural blessings and ills, The Line Becomes A River is a page-turning personal story that holds until the final page and wrenches long after." -- Olivia Cole * GQ * "Humanity is the preoccupation of The Line Becomes a River-recognizing it, acknowledging it, salvaging it." -- Carlos Lozada * Washington Post * "[Cantu's] compelling, tragic account may help to break down the wall for others, too." * The Economist * "Spare, graceful, and full of the details that propel a good story... His life on the line has made him the kind of expert we need to hear from." * Boston Globe * "A beautifully-crafted question; the answer has yet to be written." * NPR * "There is a line dividing what we know and do not know. Some see the world from one shore and some from the other. Cantu brings the two together to a spiritual whole. My gratitude for this work of the soul." -- Sandra Cisneros, author of THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET "This work may determine for future generations what building a wall does to magnify the heartache of plight and flight, of people moving between nation and nationality...without the agency to define it themselves." * LitHub * "Especially timely and resonant." * Entertainment Weekly * "Quietly heartbreaking...intimate and unforgettable." * BookPage * "Raw and timely confessional... A striking picture of the unsparing borderlands." * Minneapolis Star Tribune * "A book that whips across your face like a sandstorm, embedding bits of the desert into your skin that, like it or not, you'll carry forward." * San Francisco Chronicle * "This beautiful and horrifying memoir should be required reading by anyone who feels that immigration is the nation's number one issue right now." * NY Journal of Books * "The best book on immigration you will read this year" * Mother Jones * "His lyrical asides about the border, from the history of its creation to quotations of poets who've written about it, are passionately delivered and speak to his urge to give nameless migrants an identity" * LA Times * "This book tells the hard poetry of the desert heart. If you think you know about immigration and the border, you will see there is much to learn. And you will be moved by its unexpected music" -- Luis Alberto Urrea, author of THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY "Cantu's story, and intelligent and humane perspective, should mortify anyone who ever thought building a wall might improve our lot. He advocates for clarity and compassion in place of xenophobia and uninformed rhetoric. His words are emotionally true and his literary sensibility uplifting" -- Barry Lopez, author of ARCTIC DREAMS and OF WOLVES AND MEN "A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk - and lose -- their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective" -- Phil Klay, author of REDEPLOYMENT "Francisco Cantu's story is a lyrical journey that helps bridge the jagged line that divides us from them. His empathy reminds us of our humanity -- our immigrant history -- at a critical time." -- Alfredo Corchado, author of MIDNIGHT IN MEXICO "Cantu's rich prose and deep empathy make this an indispensable look at one of America's most divisive issues" * Publishers Weekly, starred review *

Francisco Cant. served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in The Best American Essays, Harper's, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

General Fields

  • : 9781847924872
  • : Random House Children's Books
  • : Bodley Head Childrens
  • : March 2018
  • : 222mm X 144mm X 26mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : March 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : English
  • : 363.285092
  • : 256
  • : Francisco Cantú
  • : Hardback