Summary and book reviews of The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant

The Jaguar's Children

by John Vaillant

The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant X
The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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About this Book

Book Summary

An unforgettable, page-turning survival story recounted by Hector, a man trapped—perhaps fatally—inside a tanker truck during an illegal border crossing.

Héctor is trapped. The water truck, sealed to hide its human cargo, has broken down. The coyotes have taken all the passengers' money for a mechanic and have not returned. Those left behind have no choice but to wait.

Héctor finds a name in his friend César's phone. AnniMac. A name with an American number. He must reach her, both for rescue and to pass along the message César has come so far to deliver. But are his messages going through?

Over four days, as water and food run low, Héctor tells how he came to this desperate place. His story takes us from Oaxaca - its rich culture, its rapid change - to the dangers of the border. It exposes the tangled ties between Mexico and El Norte - land of promise and opportunity, homewrecker and unreliable friend. And it reminds us of the power of storytelling and the power of hope, as Héctor fights to ensure his message makes it out of the truck and into the world.

Both an outstanding suspense novel and an arresting window into the relationship between two great cultures, The Jaguar's Children shows how deeply interconnected all of us, always, are.

1

Thu Apr 5—08:31 [text]

hello i am sorry to bother you but i need your assistance—i am hector—cesars friend—its an emergency now for cesar—are you in el norte? I think we are also—arizona near nogales or sonoita—since yesterday we are in this truck with no one coming—we need water and a doctor—and a torch for cutting metal



Thur Apr 5—08:48 [text]

please text me annimac—we need help



Thu Apr 5—08:59 [text]

are you there annimac? it's hector—please text me



Thu Apr 5—09:52 [text]

there was a storm—1 bar only now—ARE YOU THERE???



Thu Apr 5—10:09 [text]

1 bar—something's broken—maybe from the lightning—the helicopter came again but doesn't stop—how do they not see us? Nothing going now



Thu Apr 5—10:26 [soundfile]

Hello? I hope this works. Still one bar only but I'm recording now and when the signal comes back I will send it in a file with all the details and the...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

At its best, The Jaguar’s Children is a humane look at the everyday people behind the headlines. It is said that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. By the end of the novel, we begin to see why Hector and Cesar would even bother playing such a high-stakes game. In that sense Jaguar’s Children fulfills fiction’s essential function remarkably well — shining light on the human condition.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review (699 words).

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Media Reviews

The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Vaillant writes with empathy and solicitude...[The Jaguar's Children] sensitively exposes a continuing human-rights travesty.

The Oregonian

If you've ever wondered who are the men gathered along city boulevards waiting patiently for work, or why anyone would risk such predation and hardship to cross our border, this book's for you. If you're not interested? Read it anyway; it's a compulsively good story.

The Boston Globe

Waiting and hoping are the wrenching activities that drive Vaillant’s debut novel, which potently deploys the conventions of the sands--through-the-hourglass thriller to depict the condition of a proud populace in full crisis mode...The Jaguar’s Children leavens these elements with a voice fresh and plangent.

Publishers Weekly

A dramatic, tense novel...the importance of its themes, which closely mirror life, cannot be doubted.

Booklist

Vaillant's timely first novel captures both the straitened circumstances of hardworking campesinos and the humanity and raw desperation of a man slowly giving in to hopelessness.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. An eloquent literary dissection of the divide between the United States and Mexico.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Vaillant, whose international best sellers include The Golden Spruce (a Governor General's Award winner) and The Tiger, a memorably burning-bright book, turns to fiction with results that are 'riveting.'

Author Blurb Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway, Into the Beautiful North and The Hummingbird's Daughter
Vaillant sees the tragedy of human predation on the border for what it is - a real-world horror worthy of Stephen King. This book rushes at you relentless as a nightmare and doesn't let up until it kicks out the walls. Settle in. You're going to need a stiff drink. Make it ice water.

Author Blurb Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust
Like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, John Vaillant's The Jaguar's Children will be read for a long time to come. It is a major social novel.

Author Blurb Peter Heller, bestselling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter
Like all great castaway stories, John Vaillant's stirring novel is a tale of betweens.  His characters, stranded inside an abandoned water tanker somewhere on the frontier, are between life and death; north and south; between the rich culture of their home, and a voracious pan-national corporate culture that will devour it.

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Beyond the Book

Migrant Smuggling

The Jaguar's Children is based on a real-life example of migrant smuggling gone awry. Unfortunately such incidents are becoming increasingly common around the world.

It's important to note that there are differences between migrant smuggling and human trafficking even if there might be overlap between the two kinds of offenses. The United Nations defines migrant smuggling as the "procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident." Human trafficking, on the other hand, involves the recruiting, transporting, or harboring of people by means of threat, coercion, or fraud for the purpose of exploitation. That exploitation can take many ...

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