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Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road. After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road. After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Ángela fits in quickly, with new friends and after-school activities, Jaime struggles with even the idea of calling this strange place “home.” His real home is with his parents, abuela, and the rest of the family; not here where cacti and cattle outnumber people, where he can no longer be himself—a boy from Guatemala. When bad news arrives from his parents back home, feelings of helplessness and guilt gnaw at Jaime. Gang violence in Guatemala means he can’t return home, but he’s not sure if he wants to stay either. The US is not the great place everyone said it would be, especially if you’re sin papeles—undocumented—like Jaime. When things look bleak, hope arrives from unexpected places: a quiet boy on the bus, a music teacher, an old ranch hand. With his sketchbook always close by, Jaime uses his drawings to show what it means to be a true citizen. Powerful and moving, this touching sequel to The Only Road explores overcoming homesickness, finding ways to connect despite a language barrier, and discovering what it means to start over in a new place that alternates between being wonderful and completely unwelcoming.


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Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road. After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road. After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Ángela fits in quickly, with new friends and after-school activities, Jaime struggles with even the idea of calling this strange place “home.” His real home is with his parents, abuela, and the rest of the family; not here where cacti and cattle outnumber people, where he can no longer be himself—a boy from Guatemala. When bad news arrives from his parents back home, feelings of helplessness and guilt gnaw at Jaime. Gang violence in Guatemala means he can’t return home, but he’s not sure if he wants to stay either. The US is not the great place everyone said it would be, especially if you’re sin papeles—undocumented—like Jaime. When things look bleak, hope arrives from unexpected places: a quiet boy on the bus, a music teacher, an old ranch hand. With his sketchbook always close by, Jaime uses his drawings to show what it means to be a true citizen. Powerful and moving, this touching sequel to The Only Road explores overcoming homesickness, finding ways to connect despite a language barrier, and discovering what it means to start over in a new place that alternates between being wonderful and completely unwelcoming.

30 review for The Crossroads

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hill

    Truly one of the best and most important sequels to a book ever. If I could get every kid (and adult) to read The Only Road and now The Crossroads, I would.

  2. 4 out of 5

    sara

    "We are a nation of immigrants. If it weren't for immigrants, most of us wouldn't be here. No matter how things change for the worst, we must keep our hope. Hope that there is a way, hope that things will get better. When we give up on hope, we give up on life." In The Crossroads, Alexandra Diaz continues the story of the characters that we meet in the first book and how they are adjusting to life in the United States. It’s a novel where the reader sees the struggles that come from the character "We are a nation of immigrants. If it weren't for immigrants, most of us wouldn't be here. No matter how things change for the worst, we must keep our hope. Hope that there is a way, hope that things will get better. When we give up on hope, we give up on life." In The Crossroads, Alexandra Diaz continues the story of the characters that we meet in the first book and how they are adjusting to life in the United States. It’s a novel where the reader sees the struggles that come from the characters’ past, how that contrasts and almost conflicts with how they adjust and get used to life in the United States. There’s a description in the previous book where Jaime talks about how he is in the middle of two different worlds, which perfectly describes the feelings and inner conflicts that Jaime experiences in this book. Jaime is stuck between two worlds, one full of the people that he loves that he cannot go back, the place that he calls home, and another place that is unfamiliar where he struggles to find himself and find home. I loved reading about Jaime’s struggles to adjust to a new environment. It was something that was almost hard to read about since it was so realistic and emotional. Jaime is in a place that seems safe and things should be better, but in reality, he’s in this constant state of being scared and with new conflicts. To see the contrast between Jaime’s adjustment and Ángela’s surprised me and created this tension throughout the book that made both of them change. It was well done. Alexandra’s writing is simple and easy to read, so the reader can get into her writing and the story quickly, but I do believe that she could’ve used more details or went more in depth. Her writing style was appropriate and effective for the story that she told and her audience. The simplistic writing style did not take away from my enjoyment of the story. It did an effective job at creating empathy and emotion for the characters. I found myself close to tears for a good majority of this book. EMOTIONALLY WRECKED. I had a good understanding of what was going on. She included both Spanish and English in this book, which I felt honored the characters and their culture, but it was also in a way that was accessible for any reader (with the glossary included) while staying true to her characters. Alexandra crafted new characters that I started to get to know and root for, but also focused on continuing the growth of characters from the previous book. This let me know what happened to the characters after their journey, which is something that I felt a strong desperation to know after finishing the previous book. Her characters experienced a different type of growth in this book, but the readers are able to experience the changes of the characters as it is happening on the page. I loved the deaf representation in this book and admire Alexandra for including it. It was something that I enjoyed reading about and learning about further. There was this one section in the book that surprised me. Alexandra touched on people who identify as transgender in a way that was respectful, which I thought was a topic and theme that I have not read about in any children’s or middle grade books besides George by Alex Gino. The representation that Alexandra continues to bring to her novels will connect to the readers and allow them to feel represented and less alone. People need more representation. Something that Alexandra does in both The Only Road and The Crossroads is that she includes an author’s note, references, further reading, and a glossary. Outside of the story, but also supplementing the story, these are excellent resources. Especially the author’s note, I enjoyed reading it, because I was able to see the parallels between Jaime and Ángela’s life in the novel to the author’s life. I would love to know more about the author's life, but to see it blend into the kaleidoscope of the world and characters she created in the novel was not only emotional for how it hit close to home for her, but also added to the book in the way that it made me feel very different about the book. As a future educator of young children, I want to write some warnings for parents. I do believe that allowing children to read freely and explore different perspectives is a good and healthy thing, but also I know how parents want to protect their children as well. This book and its predecessor does not shy away from the struggles of immigrating to another country, both books are raw, real, and emotional. The Crossroads has mild cursing, tobacco use, discussion of gangs and drug cartels, violence, and many others. But I do not believe that these difficult topics should keep children away from learning about something that is prevalent and important. Children need that empathy and understanding. The Crossroads was an enjoyable and emotional sequel to The Only Road. It is a book that I believe is important and that covers topics that I've never read about in children's literature before. Books like this need to be written and topics like this need to be talked about. The Crossroads is an accessible book, simply written and with characters to root for, that will open up this conversations and create a better understanding for younger children.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    I can see this as a really good resource for middle grade kids for building empathy for refugees and the experience of being undocumented in the US in 2019.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    This is a huge jump in quality from the first book in the trilogy but that fades as the story moves on. Alexandra Diaz writes beautifully and gets it right when she is writing about situations she personally experienced such as attending school as a refugee and not being fluent in English. Her accounts about a character working on a ranch and her story dissipates a bit and becomes less interesting. YA fiction needs more novels about this subject especially for kids who have experienced this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Quick, sweet, enjoyable read. *Mother/Daughter Coronavirus Bookclub - Book #10*

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    This story undoubtedly was a wonderful way to explain the troubles of kids who may not be from the United States, and is a great and fascinating story overall. Jamie's story made me never not want the book to end and while I was reading it I couldn't stop! The book made me further understand the troubles of immigrants, and his it is even harder to leave your family at 11 years old and cross the boarder. I would recommend this book to everyone in my class, because it sends such an important messa This story undoubtedly was a wonderful way to explain the troubles of kids who may not be from the United States, and is a great and fascinating story overall. Jamie's story made me never not want the book to end and while I was reading it I couldn't stop! The book made me further understand the troubles of immigrants, and his it is even harder to leave your family at 11 years old and cross the boarder. I would recommend this book to everyone in my class, because it sends such an important message to readers. This book further increased my knowledge on the world as we know it, and how fortunate we are everyday. I highly recommend this book, however I suggest to read the first book, "The Only Road" first.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Finke

    Excellent! I loved learning what happened to Jaime and Angela after arriving in NM.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    If you enjoyed The Only Road, which traces the journey from Guatemala to the United States of Jaime Rivera, 12, and his cousin Angela, 15, then you will certainly want to find out what happens next. Newly arrived in New Mexico where they are living with their brother, Tomas, on the ranch where he works, the two youngsters take very different paths to their new situation. Jaime seems lost without Miguel and Xavi and his familiar neighborhood, and he struggles with the language and culture. Angela If you enjoyed The Only Road, which traces the journey from Guatemala to the United States of Jaime Rivera, 12, and his cousin Angela, 15, then you will certainly want to find out what happens next. Newly arrived in New Mexico where they are living with their brother, Tomas, on the ranch where he works, the two youngsters take very different paths to their new situation. Jaime seems lost without Miguel and Xavi and his familiar neighborhood, and he struggles with the language and culture. Angela seems to have forgotten everything about the past and is running with a fast crowd and quickly becoming Americanized. But despite the challenges of life without legal documents and Jaime's desperate wish to just go back home, news from home dashes those hopes as violence there continues to increase. When a mistake leads to legal troubles for Don Vincente, their benefactor, it is Jaime's sketches that show what it's like to be a good human being, no matter what the law says. While parts of the story are a bit romanticized and unlikely, it still gave me hope that things can change for the better, especially because it was the young protagonists who took action when things seemed most hopeless. I don't know if the author plans to continue this story, but I'd certainly be eager to read more about this family. The book effectively humanizes the plight of many immigrants who didn't necessarily come here willingly, but because they had few other choices if they wanted to survive.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joyce Krom

    I received this book as an ARC. The Crossroads is the sequel to The Only Road, a Pura Belpré Honor Book; however, it is compelling enough to stand on its own. The story introduces several pertinent issues surrounding those with immigrant and refugee status including the journey, language challenges, the clash of cultures, employment, legalities and detainment. The Crossroads respectfully demonstrates the challenges faced by those who speak both English and Spanish, those who speak only English a I received this book as an ARC. The Crossroads is the sequel to The Only Road, a Pura Belpré Honor Book; however, it is compelling enough to stand on its own. The story introduces several pertinent issues surrounding those with immigrant and refugee status including the journey, language challenges, the clash of cultures, employment, legalities and detainment. The Crossroads respectfully demonstrates the challenges faced by those who speak both English and Spanish, those who speak only English and those who speak only Spanish as those groups interact with each other, why some choose not to speak English at all, and the struggle to both maintain their own culture and fit into a new culture. While this book alludes to the dangers and horrors faced by refugees and immigrants, they are covered delicately enough that the intended audience will gain an age-appropriate understanding, leaving room for more in-depth exploration of the process. This is a great middle grade novel to pair with or introduce a unit on immigration.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was so boring. There was so much going on and at the same time nothing at all. The story is told from Jaime's point of view but most of the time we only get his internal dialogue; he spends little to know time actually talking or interacting with others. And when Jaime does engage in conversation, it mundane. The story tried to focus on too much at once. First it was adjusting to being in a new country and going to school not being able to speak English. Then Jaime had to deal with a b This book was so boring. There was so much going on and at the same time nothing at all. The story is told from Jaime's point of view but most of the time we only get his internal dialogue; he spends little to know time actually talking or interacting with others. And when Jaime does engage in conversation, it mundane. The story tried to focus on too much at once. First it was adjusting to being in a new country and going to school not being able to speak English. Then Jaime had to deal with a bully. Then Don Vincente got detained, He finds out that the only meaningful relationship he has from school is with a deaf kid, and we get the snooze of him learning to sign. He learns a fellow immigrant has made it safely to family and we are taken thru an awkward and irrelevant Skype session. I wish the author had just picked a single plot point to focus on and really delivered on a well thought out story. Instead we got a bunch of ideas relayed thru a 1 dimensional character. The first book was captivating but I could not wait for this book to end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    An excellent read for tweens/teens on the subject of contemporary immigration. Set in New Mexico, and following the continuing adventures of Jamie (12) and Angela (15), whose journey escaping Guatemala gang violence began in a previous book. Well written, from Jaime's point of view, and covers the complicated territory that the border represents, both physically (the relationships and community in border states which are being torn apart, navigating a new world in a different language) and menta An excellent read for tweens/teens on the subject of contemporary immigration. Set in New Mexico, and following the continuing adventures of Jamie (12) and Angela (15), whose journey escaping Guatemala gang violence began in a previous book. Well written, from Jaime's point of view, and covers the complicated territory that the border represents, both physically (the relationships and community in border states which are being torn apart, navigating a new world in a different language) and mentally (dealing with the deaths of relatives who are far away, with bullying and language acquisition, with the fear of deportation and arrests). There's a huge amount packed into one boy's experience, but Diaz does a tremendous job addressing the subject.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Verkaik

    This is a great sequel to The Only Road. These are important books because they give immigrants faces, names and stories. It is really important to see the other person as a human and too often we fail to do this. No matter your opinion on what is going on at our Southern border we need to agree that the "refugees" coming from Guatemala and Honduras are being forced out of their home and they are no the murderers, rapists and criminals that some would lead you to believe. I also really loved The This is a great sequel to The Only Road. These are important books because they give immigrants faces, names and stories. It is really important to see the other person as a human and too often we fail to do this. No matter your opinion on what is going on at our Southern border we need to agree that the "refugees" coming from Guatemala and Honduras are being forced out of their home and they are no the murderers, rapists and criminals that some would lead you to believe. I also really loved The Crossroads because the immigrants' journey isn't over when they cross the border, it is only beginning and this books details that very well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary Sanchez

    The story explores the question, what's it like to be an undocumented teen who just crossed the border? Jaime Rivera and his cousin go to an outlying ranch in New Mexico where they are reunited with Jaime's older brother. They enroll in school and soon the cousin seems to fitting in, but Jaime has problems. He finds solace in his sketchbook and draws a story that includes the young boy who sits with Jaime on the bus. The sketchbook also plays a part in helping an undocumented ranch hand who's be The story explores the question, what's it like to be an undocumented teen who just crossed the border? Jaime Rivera and his cousin go to an outlying ranch in New Mexico where they are reunited with Jaime's older brother. They enroll in school and soon the cousin seems to fitting in, but Jaime has problems. He finds solace in his sketchbook and draws a story that includes the young boy who sits with Jaime on the bus. The sketchbook also plays a part in helping an undocumented ranch hand who's been on the ranch for decades. I appreciated seeing another side to the undocumented story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Wultzen

    When I finished "The Only Road", I wished for a continuation of Jaime's story and was thrilled to find it in this book. This novels greatest strength is tackling intense topics (documentation, deportation, immigration and even sexual preference) seamlessly and realistically. As a teacher, I better understand my students from immigrant families after reading Diaz's two novels. I highly recommend this to anyone but especially educators and think it would be a fabulous book for book groups at the mid When I finished "The Only Road", I wished for a continuation of Jaime's story and was thrilled to find it in this book. This novels greatest strength is tackling intense topics (documentation, deportation, immigration and even sexual preference) seamlessly and realistically. As a teacher, I better understand my students from immigrant families after reading Diaz's two novels. I highly recommend this to anyone but especially educators and think it would be a fabulous book for book groups at the middle level or a novel study.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Stephens

    When I read _The Only Road_ as a high-school teacher (4-5 years ago), I didn't care for it at all. I can't remember why, just that I couldn't get into it. This book, however, I loved! A bit too pat of an ending, but that's not terrible in a middle-grade book, and it touched on so many important current issues. I will try _The Only Road_ again with a much more open mind, although having read _The Crossroads_, the book is a bit spoiled for me. I definitely wouldn't suggest reading them out of order When I read _The Only Road_ as a high-school teacher (4-5 years ago), I didn't care for it at all. I can't remember why, just that I couldn't get into it. This book, however, I loved! A bit too pat of an ending, but that's not terrible in a middle-grade book, and it touched on so many important current issues. I will try _The Only Road_ again with a much more open mind, although having read _The Crossroads_, the book is a bit spoiled for me. I definitely wouldn't suggest reading them out of order.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marisol Sanchez-Matias

    I AM WRITING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THIS BOOK TRULY DESERVES IT!! THIS PORTRAYS THE LIFE OF SOMEONE FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY TO ONE THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN IN IS WELL DESCRIBED. THE AUTHOR WELL DESCRIBES THE CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES THE CHILDREN FACE STARTING SCHOOL IN A PLACE THEY HAVE TO NOW SEE AS HOME. I 100% WILL HAVE THIS BOOK AS WELL AS THE ONLY ROAD IN MY CLASSROOM BECAUSE IT GIVES A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. IT IS ALSO A BOOK IN WHICH MY STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO RELATE TO.

  17. 4 out of 5

    N. Glover

    I was really looking forward to reading this book, after I read the first one El Único Destino. I was excited to see what happened to the two immigrant kids from Guatemala. The book caught my attention until midway. The story was not woven together. I felt like some of the characters were just thrown in there to fill pages, like Quinto and the kids from school. I was disappointed with the ending and expected more with Jaime and Angela.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This felt a lot preachier than the first one with more thinly disguised moments thrown in to “explain” the immigrant experience instead of telling a story that illustrates what it’s like. It was still good, and I liked the ending and Jaime’s friendship with Sean, but it was a much slower read for me than the first one.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sidney

    This sequel to The Only Road was good but not nearly as captivating. While it was nice to get a “follow-up” on what happened to Jamie, the protagonist of the first novel, it lacked the adventure of it. The issues raised were still very important and a reminder of some of the issues that immigrants face.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Blanca Carranza

    If you are a teacher in upper elementary or middle school this book would be great for your students. If they are immigrants or refuges they will definitely feel identified, if they are not, this book will help them understand and empathize. If you are trying to incorporate authentic texts in your practice this is a great book

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yapha

    Fabulous follow up to The Only Road and a must read for anyone who wants to know the rest of Jaime and Angela's story. Both of these books are essential reads with the current climate towards refugees from Latin America. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up. Fabulous follow up to The Only Road and a must read for anyone who wants to know the rest of Jaime and Angela's story. Both of these books are essential reads with the current climate towards refugees from Latin America. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    MIss.Disney

    I loved it! It was a good sequel to "The Only Road",but I do wish that it brought some more text from the last book about the characters. Other than that I say it's a good read if you are in to a little bit of a heartfelt book, then this is the way to go. I loved it! It was a good sequel to "The Only Road",but I do wish that it brought some more text from the last book about the characters. Other than that I say it's a good read if you are in to a little bit of a heartfelt book, then this is the way to go.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elena Velasquez

    Every young immigrant must read This book provides a good example of what out newly young arrivals to the United States go through. I was able to make connection about my own experiences as a young immigrant. The storyline flows well and is a quick read

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I liked The Crossroads even more than The Only Road!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Read this sequel of The Only Road. Well done, with lots of new school fears and misunderstandings (compounded by the language barrier). Also captures the current mistreatment of immigrants.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diana Olivares

    An impactful continuation of the story in “The only road”, now Jaime and his new family face other dangers of being a refugee.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    Every teacher needs to read this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dotty

    Good read - not as riveting and the first, but still a satisfying book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Well done sequel to The Only Road, depicting the dangerous journey of two cousins from Guatemala to New Mexico where their older brother Tomas works on a cattle ranch.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    A well told story. Every chapter is charming and you can't help but love the main character. Somehow the storyline isn't quite as captivating and doesn't pull you in quite like the first one, though. A well told story. Every chapter is charming and you can't help but love the main character. Somehow the storyline isn't quite as captivating and doesn't pull you in quite like the first one, though.

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