Journey of the Sparrows

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( 213 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780525673620: Journey of the Sparrows

Maria and her brother and sister, Salvadoran refugees, are smuggled into the United States in crates and try to eke out a living in Chicago with the help of a sympathetic family.

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From the Publisher:

Nailed into a crate in the back of a truck, fifteen-year-old Maria, her older sister Julia, their little brother Oscar, and a boy named Tomas endure a cruel journey across the U.S. border and then north to Chicago. There they struggle to find work--cleaning, sewing, washing dishes--always careful to remain "invisible" so the authorities won't arrest and deport them.

Despite the family's ordeals, hope and love can be found--in Maria's budding romance with Tomas, in the help given by a kindly midwife and priest, and most of all, in the stories Maria tells to lift the family's spirits, of a little sparrow who brings a rainbow.

Starkly realistic and tenderly poetic, this powerfully moving story of the secret lives of immigrants who courageously triumph over incredible obstacles is not to be missed.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 5-8-- Maria, her older sister Julia, and small brother, Oscar, are illegal aliens, having been smuggled into the U. S. nailed in crates and shipped in the back of a coyote's truck. They are Salvadorans from a peasant village whose men have been openly murdered or "disappeared." Their ordeal presages an almost unrelentingly bleak existence, living in poverty on the margins of norteamericano culture in wintertime Chicago. Small events brighten their lives: a friend buys Maria a pack of colored pens with which she creates pictures that she sells for tiny sums; a kind priest gives her a job cleaning his church. The climactic moment arrives when Maria must make a dangerous return trip to Mexico to get her baby sister, left in the care of friends along the way. The theme is indeed a strong one, and characterization suffers under its weight. In spite of the many tragedies these children face, they never really come to life. Thus, while readers will admire Maria's spirit, they are likely to feel detached from her anguish. Buss makes heavy use of symbolism: of birds flying free or guiding followers to safety; of colors, the bright clothes of the Indians, the green feathers of the quetzal; and of the many religious images. The icons of the various virgins that Maria sees are colorful and benign, but cold. The power of events in her life nearly overwhelm her, but a thread of hope, very thin, nevertheless pulls her onward. A worthwhile book, but one that is not totally successful at drawing readers into the world of its characters. --Ruth Semrau, Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Fran Leeper Buss
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