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An electrifying memoir from a Mexican-American US Border Patrol guard

How does a line in the sand become a barrier that people will risk everything to cross?

Francisco Cantú was a US Border Patrol agent from 2008 to 2012. He worked the desert along the Mexican border, at the remote crossroads of drug routes and smuggling corridors, tracking humans through blistering days and frigid nights across a vast terrain.

He detains the exhausted and the parched. He hauls in the dead. He tries not to think where the stories go from there.

He is descended from Mexican immigrants, so the border is in his blood. But the line he is sworn to defend is dissolving. Haunted by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. And when an immigrant friend is caught on the wrong side of the border, Cantú faces a final confrontation with a world he believed he had escaped.

The Line Becomes a River is timely and electrifying. It brings to life this landscape of sprawling borderlands and the countless people who risk their lives to cross it. Yet it takes us beyond one person’s experience to reveal truths about life on either side of an arbitrary line, wherever it is.

Reviews

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

Luís Alberto Urrea, author of THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY

There is a line dividing what we know and do not know. Some see the world from one shore and some from the other. Cantú 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

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

Cantú’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] must-read memoir ... Cantú'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

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

Cantú’s rich prose and deep empathy make this an indispensable look at one of America’s most divisive issues

Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781847925220

    February 12, 2018

    Bodley Head

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9781847924872

    March 15, 2018

    Bodley Head

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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