The Far Away Brothers: Book summary and reviews of The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham

The Far Away Brothers

Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life

by Lauren Markham

The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham X
The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2017
    320 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California - fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, Ernesto Flores had always had a fascination with the United States, the distant land of skyscrapers and Nikes, while his identical twin, Raul, never felt that northbound tug. But when Ernesto ends up on the wrong side of the region's brutal gangs he is forced to flee the country, and Raul, because he looks just like his brother, follows close behind - away from one danger and toward the great American unknown.

In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the seventeen-year-old Flores twins as they make their harrowing journey across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother's custody in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating a new school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of life as American teenagers - girls, grades, Facebook - with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers a coming of age tale that is also a nuanced portrait of Central America's child exodus, an investigation of U.S. immigration policy, and an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. One of the most searing books on illegal immigration since Sonia Nazario's Enrique's Journey" - Kirkus

"This is a timely and thought-provoking exploration of a international quagmire. Markham provides a sensitive and eye-opening take on what's at stake for young immigrants with nowhere else to go." - Publishers Weekly

"This brilliantly reported book goes so deeply into the lives of its protagonists and is so beautifully, movingly written it has some of the pleasures of a novel - but all the force of bitter truth, the truth about the lives of unaccompanied minors in the USA, about poverty, the ricocheting wars here and there, and the caprices and brutalities of immigration policy." - Rebecca Solnit, author of The Mother of All Questions

"Told with elegant detail, profound compassion, and painful truth, you will come out of this story with so much knowledge and, more importantly, understanding - of immigrants and also of youth. Lauren Markham has written this book in a hard and noble way, depicting the Flores brothers not only as representatives of a vital issue, but as human beings: complicated, special, humorous, and flawed. You need to meet these young men." - Jeff Hobbs, author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

"This is one of the finest accounts ever written of the plight of unaccompanied migrant children, full of insight and empathy, and as gripping a tale as one might hope to find in a masterful suspense novel. By making the Flores twins come alive, Lauren Markham puts flesh and bone on one of the most shadowy yet most pressing crises of our day and age." - Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana and Learning to Die in Miami

"Lauren Markham has written a modern day epic with The Far Away Brothers ... Markham's writing reads like the best of fiction out there, and yet... remember, this happened to real people. This is the sort of book you'll be thinking about at night." - Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas

"The most moving revelation of this book comes not from the geo-political lessons we learn, the path of the brothers through the desert, or the obstacles they face in U.S. courts - rather, it's the insight into how that journey affects them, plaguing them with anxiety and guilt but also inspiring hope, ambition, and responsibility." - Laura Tillman, author of The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts

"Once you've read this remarkable reporting, 'immigration' will never be an abstract or airless debate for you again. It's hard to imagine a more timely or more valuable volume." - Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont

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Author Information

Lauren Markham

Lauren Markham is a writer based in Berkeley, California. Her work has appeared in VQR, VICE, Orion, Pacific Standard, Guernica, The New Yorker.com, on This American Life, and elsewhere. Lauren earned her MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been awarded Fellowships from the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, the 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship, the Mesa Refuge, and the Rotary Foundation. For the past decade, she has worked in the fields of refugee resettlement and immigrant education.

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