Excerpt from Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Enrique's Journey

by Sonia Nazario

Enrique's Journey
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 320 pages
    Jan 2007, 336 pages

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His uncle trusts him, even to make bank deposits. He tells Enrique, "I want you to work with me forever." Enrique senses that Uncle Marco loves him, and he values his advice.

One week, as his uncle's security guard returns from trading Honduran lempiras, robbers drag the guard off a bus and kill him. The guard has a son twenty-three years old, and the slaying impels the young man to go to the United States. He comes back before crossing the Rio Grande and tells Enrique about riding on trains, leaping off rolling freight cars, and dodging la migra, Mexican immigration agents.

Because of the security guard's murder, Marco swears that he will never change money again. A few months later, though, he gets a call. For a large commission, would he exchange $50,000 in lempiras on the border with El Salvador? Uncle Marco promises that this will be the last time.

Enrique wants to go with him, but his uncle says he is too young. He takes Victor, one of his own brothers, instead. Robbers riddle their car with bullets. Enrique's uncles careen off the road. The thieves shoot Uncle Marco three times in the chest and once in the leg. They shoot Victor in the face. Both die. Now Uncle Marco is gone.

In nine years, Lourdes has saved $700 toward bringing her children to the United States. Instead, she uses it to help pay for her brothers' funerals.

Lourdes goes into a tailspin. Marco had visited her once, shortly after she arrived in Long Beach. She had not seen Victor since leaving Honduras. If the dead can appear to the liv­ing, Lourdes beseeches God through tears, allow Victor to show himself so she can say good-bye. "Mira, hermanito, I know you are dead. But I want to see you one more time. Come to me. I promise I won't be afraid of you," Lourdes says.

Lourdes angrily swears off Honduras. How could she ever live in such a lawless place? People there are killed like dogs. There are no repercussions. The only way she'll go back now, she tells herself, is by force, if she is deported. Soon after her brothers' deaths, the restaurant where Lourdes works is raided by immigration agents. Every worker is caught up in the sweep. Lourdes is the only one spared. It is her day off.

Lourdes decides to wait no longer. With financial help from her boyfriend, she baptizes seven-year-old Diana. The girl's godparents are a trustworthy Mexican house painter and his wife. Lourdes dresses Diana in a white floor-length dress and tiara. A priest sprinkles her daughter with holy water. Lourdes feels that one worry, at least, has been lifted.

Still, her resolve to stay in the United States brings a new nightmare. One morning at four, she hears her mother's voice. It is loud and clear. Her mother utters her name three times: Lourdes. Lourdes. Lourdes. "Huh?" Lourdes, half awake, bolts up in bed, screaming. This must be an omen that her mother has just died. She is inconsolable. Will she ever see her mother again?

Back in Honduras, within days of the two brothers' deaths, Uncle Marco's girlfriend sells Enrique's television, stereo, and Nintendo game – all gifts from Marco. Without telling him why, she says, "I don't want you here anymore." She puts his bed out on the street.

Excerpted from Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Nazario. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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