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Separated by the Border: A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child's 3,000-Mile Journey

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In 2017 five-year-old Julia traveled with her mother, Guadalupe, from Honduras to the United States. Her harrowing journey took her through Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. Then she was separated from her mother, who was held hostage by smugglers who exploited her physically and financially. At the United States border, Julia was put in detention as an una In 2017 five-year-old Julia traveled with her mother, Guadalupe, from Honduras to the United States. Her harrowing journey took her through Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. Then she was separated from her mother, who was held hostage by smugglers who exploited her physically and financially. At the United States border, Julia was put in detention as an unaccompanied minor. Gena Thomas tells the story of how Julia came to the United States, what she experienced in the system, and what it took to reunite her with her family. A Spanish-speaking former missionary, Gena became Julia's foster mother and witnessed firsthand the ways migrant children experience trauma. Weaving together the stories of birth mother and foster mother, this book shows the human face of the immigrant and refugee, the challenges of the immigration and foster care systems, and the tenacious power of motherly love.


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In 2017 five-year-old Julia traveled with her mother, Guadalupe, from Honduras to the United States. Her harrowing journey took her through Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. Then she was separated from her mother, who was held hostage by smugglers who exploited her physically and financially. At the United States border, Julia was put in detention as an una In 2017 five-year-old Julia traveled with her mother, Guadalupe, from Honduras to the United States. Her harrowing journey took her through Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. Then she was separated from her mother, who was held hostage by smugglers who exploited her physically and financially. At the United States border, Julia was put in detention as an unaccompanied minor. Gena Thomas tells the story of how Julia came to the United States, what she experienced in the system, and what it took to reunite her with her family. A Spanish-speaking former missionary, Gena became Julia's foster mother and witnessed firsthand the ways migrant children experience trauma. Weaving together the stories of birth mother and foster mother, this book shows the human face of the immigrant and refugee, the challenges of the immigration and foster care systems, and the tenacious power of motherly love.

30 review for Separated by the Border: A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child's 3,000-Mile Journey

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is a narrative about the lives of two families one from Honduras and the other the United States. It looks at the costs of one immigrant women, her daughter and her family she made the decision to come to the United States with her daughter, and make the dangerous trip out of desperation. It is not a pretty story, but it is a story of redemption for both families. In many ways it is a story that reflects many of the experiences immigrants face in the decision to migrate to a safer place in This is a narrative about the lives of two families one from Honduras and the other the United States. It looks at the costs of one immigrant women, her daughter and her family she made the decision to come to the United States with her daughter, and make the dangerous trip out of desperation. It is not a pretty story, but it is a story of redemption for both families. In many ways it is a story that reflects many of the experiences immigrants face in the decision to migrate to a safer place in spite of the dangers. The beauty of this book is that it is written in light of the experiences of those directly involved. It reflects the struggle, suffering, pain and hearbrake of parenting/foster parenting. Gena does not present herself in a savior like role, but rather as a human being facing the challenges of caring for immagrant children separated from their parents. Her story shows the deep connection between orthodoxy and orthopraxis. It is a story of faith lived in the messiness and tragedy of human life. It is a story that is lamentful in how immigrants are treated. Gena writes: "Lament might look like cuss words that are wrong and shameful, because human suffering is wrong and shameful. Lament might look like a constant flow of tears, an inability to get out of bed, an angry rant, an emotional prayer . . ." I highly recommend this book as it is "The call to Christians is to work for and usher in shalom here and now while simultaneously esperando (waiting for or hoping for) the renewal of all things when the upside-down kin-dom comes for good." Gena Thomas writes,"The church tells women to tell the pretty stories, because when you tell us the ugly stories, you make us feel uncomfortable." Thank you Gena for making me feel uncomfortable!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is the interwoven story of Gena, Lupe, and Julia. It is a hard and beautiful story. Our immigration system is broken and reading this book helps shed a light on those challenges. The book brings you into the desperation of family separation. Gena is amazing at identifying and being honest about her own inherent bias and mindsets throughout her life journey. Her perspective is refreshing, open, and told from a space of humility. She writes, “When we learn about history and we hear stories of This is the interwoven story of Gena, Lupe, and Julia. It is a hard and beautiful story. Our immigration system is broken and reading this book helps shed a light on those challenges. The book brings you into the desperation of family separation. Gena is amazing at identifying and being honest about her own inherent bias and mindsets throughout her life journey. Her perspective is refreshing, open, and told from a space of humility. She writes, “When we learn about history and we hear stories of people involved, we start to see the complex reality beyond headlines and soundbites.” This book is a must-read to feel the heartbeat of loss, fostering, the push and pull factors that lead people to leave their homelands and to understand the healing and response brothers and sisters in Christ deeply need. “In the relentless love of Lupe, I saw the tenacity and power of God’s abundant love that disregards boundaries and borders. Indeed, there is no border that can separate us from the mother love of God.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Paulson

    I really enjoyed this book. Not only was it a powerful and heart-wrenching story of a mother's love, the realities of sacrificial cross-cultural love, and the horrors of family separation -- it was also a thought-provoking read that forced me to ask some hard questions. What does it mean to be among the most privileged in the world (white, Christian, wealthy, secure), living in a time of great need? How does my faith intersect with the political and humanitarian realities that others face, who o I really enjoyed this book. Not only was it a powerful and heart-wrenching story of a mother's love, the realities of sacrificial cross-cultural love, and the horrors of family separation -- it was also a thought-provoking read that forced me to ask some hard questions. What does it mean to be among the most privileged in the world (white, Christian, wealthy, secure), living in a time of great need? How does my faith intersect with the political and humanitarian realities that others face, who only differ in that they were born in a different country? Despite my desire for justice and my humanitarian concern for others, what are my blind spots that keep me from the kind of proximity that Jesus exampled for us? What terms and concepts do I unconsciously buy into that lead to separation from the people around me? There is a lot to think about with this one. I recommend it to anyone who wants to honestly consider how our faith can inform our action in regards to immigrants, refugees, and those who are in need right outside our door.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This really is an important read for people who are on any side of the immigration debate. I feel like the best way to summarize the book is lament. Gena does a wonderful job narrating her journey as well as Lupes and Julia’s even though it is a mournful journey almost the whole step of the way. Lamenting the pain, injustice, and heartache for two mothers caught in a painful situation. But this book also does justice for their story- sharing with a larger audience the human side of immigration a This really is an important read for people who are on any side of the immigration debate. I feel like the best way to summarize the book is lament. Gena does a wonderful job narrating her journey as well as Lupes and Julia’s even though it is a mournful journey almost the whole step of the way. Lamenting the pain, injustice, and heartache for two mothers caught in a painful situation. But this book also does justice for their story- sharing with a larger audience the human side of immigration all the whole contemplating where Jesus is in the whole story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    This book helped me understand why and how our immigration system is so broken, and did it through the deeply personal, gut-wrenching, and inspiring story of a mother and her daughter. This is a must-read for our time. Beautifully written and educational, shocking and sadly true, with an ending that leaves you hopeful and with all the right questions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gena Thomas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a tough book to write. I didn't want to know Lupe's story was full of such heartache and trauma. I didn't want to recognize my own brokenness, and we fully intended on adopting through foster care. Sometimes I can't make sense of this cruel world, and sometimes I want to flip over whatever table God is sitting at. Yup, I do. But God is still faithful, and God showcases Her inclusive mother love through Lupe, and I hope readers can see and experience a more full perception of God Our Par This was a tough book to write. I didn't want to know Lupe's story was full of such heartache and trauma. I didn't want to recognize my own brokenness, and we fully intended on adopting through foster care. Sometimes I can't make sense of this cruel world, and sometimes I want to flip over whatever table God is sitting at. Yup, I do. But God is still faithful, and God showcases Her inclusive mother love through Lupe, and I hope readers can see and experience a more full perception of God Our Parent. And maybe that deeper robustness will lead us to treat each other more like humans and less like exploitable "others"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christina Gilliland

    A beautifully written, powerful, and needed story for everyone. We cannot hide from the immigration issues that are occurring in the United States. Author Gena Thomas helps us remember that there are real people behind the headlines that we see on the news. Separated by the Border is a prophetic book not only when it comes to immigration but also on the importance of foster care. A stunning memoir, this is a must read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rileah

    Separated by the Border is a beautiful narrative that highlights a intense personal struggle related to a massive political agenda. Gena, Andrew, and Lupe’s ability to rely on God and trust Him with such insurmountable faith in the midst of trauma and crisis speaks to the hope we can find in our belief as Christians. The strength and faith of the mothers discussed in this book are a blessing and inspiration. May all mothers be as motivated for humanity and love.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chase Andre

    I thought I understood the plight of migrants crossing the U.S. border — this book showed me how little I knew. I thought I understood the complexities of the foster system — this book showed me how little I knew. If you want your world expanded, heart broken, and hope restored, "Separated by the Border" is a must-read. While migration at the southern U.S. border is still making headlines, this book offers a true-to-life account of two families united through one unaccompanied minor. Part memoir I thought I understood the plight of migrants crossing the U.S. border — this book showed me how little I knew. I thought I understood the complexities of the foster system — this book showed me how little I knew. If you want your world expanded, heart broken, and hope restored, "Separated by the Border" is a must-read. While migration at the southern U.S. border is still making headlines, this book offers a true-to-life account of two families united through one unaccompanied minor. Part memoir, part graduate-level expose, Gena Thomas peels back the curtain on the headlines we retweet, and shares from her heart to put faces to the numbers we hear about. Possibly most worthy of note is the tender, open-handed way she presents the stories of others — how she tells of the experience of her foster daughter and her birth mother, aware of the gravity involved in stewarding someone else's narrative. After reading this book, you'll be left with a deeper knowing of the love of God, a hotter fire burning against injustice, and a quieter resolve to open your arms to others than you had before. If that sounds like a worthy pursuit, read this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Heartfelt! A book for our times that pulls no punches when describing the tragedies that lie in the past with respect to the Refugee question and in the present for those wanting to lead a better life. All on hold at the border! But it's the children and their families who are suffering. Thomas' book calls us to "walk a mile" in their shoes and ask the hard questions. Driven by need and fear, this is the personal story of some whose bright hopes became dark dreams. Hard to read, hard to come to term Heartfelt! A book for our times that pulls no punches when describing the tragedies that lie in the past with respect to the Refugee question and in the present for those wanting to lead a better life. All on hold at the border! But it's the children and their families who are suffering. Thomas' book calls us to "walk a mile" in their shoes and ask the hard questions. Driven by need and fear, this is the personal story of some whose bright hopes became dark dreams. Hard to read, hard to come to terms with and harder to cross to the other side of the road. Definitely a call for us all to exercise our Good Samaritan ethic, to not walk on by. An InterVarsity Press ARC via NetGalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Puddle

    Powerful, painful, eye opening and life changing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bud Winderweedle

    Gena tells a beautiful and painful true story in Separated by the Border. While this text could certainly qualify as a lament, it is not bereft of hope. One would not blame anyone who experiences the horror described in the book for forsaking God and hope altogether. And yet the heroines in this tale never give up, offering their pain and lament to God along the way. Also, the reader is not left holding a bag of emotions. Gena includes a helpful section on what we all can do in light of the infor Gena tells a beautiful and painful true story in Separated by the Border. While this text could certainly qualify as a lament, it is not bereft of hope. One would not blame anyone who experiences the horror described in the book for forsaking God and hope altogether. And yet the heroines in this tale never give up, offering their pain and lament to God along the way. Also, the reader is not left holding a bag of emotions. Gena includes a helpful section on what we all can do in light of the information shared and the story told. The practical takeaways are helpful to not feel overwhelmed. I cannot overstate the importance of reading this book - especially Americans and even more so American Christians.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brandi Jordan

    Finally, some humanity in the great immigration debate. I think many people when asked would say that they have some concept of what's going on at the border and beyond (in reference to immigration policies and implementation). I think this book goes a long way in showing us just how little we know about the true plight of people - real humans - who are looking for safety at the edge of a hostile border. Everyone should read this. We all need this sort of conviction in our often, all too easy li Finally, some humanity in the great immigration debate. I think many people when asked would say that they have some concept of what's going on at the border and beyond (in reference to immigration policies and implementation). I think this book goes a long way in showing us just how little we know about the true plight of people - real humans - who are looking for safety at the edge of a hostile border. Everyone should read this. We all need this sort of conviction in our often, all too easy lives. We need to hear Julia's, Lupe's, and Gena's story and we need to allow it to permeate our being. We have to come to terms with the fact that their story is not only theirs, but representative for thousands and thousands of other people. We need to come to terms with the fact that we each play a role in their stories, whether we would like to believe so or not. Read this book. Sit with it. Let it do its work on your heart.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Grace Humbles

    I've been incredibly saddened by the humanitarian crisis at the US Southern border for quite a while, but this book opened my eyes to how little I truly knew about the lives of our neighbors who sacrifice to cross the border. This book is an interesting mix of memoir, narrative, and research-informed discussion on the complex realities (and history) involved in our ongoing border crisis. The mix of forms works well together and provides multiple layers of access into the stories of Julia, Lupe, G I've been incredibly saddened by the humanitarian crisis at the US Southern border for quite a while, but this book opened my eyes to how little I truly knew about the lives of our neighbors who sacrifice to cross the border. This book is an interesting mix of memoir, narrative, and research-informed discussion on the complex realities (and history) involved in our ongoing border crisis. The mix of forms works well together and provides multiple layers of access into the stories of Julia, Lupe, Gena and her family. For Christian readers in particular, this book is incredibly important. As people who were once strangers of God and were welcomed as sons and daughters, we are called (and required) to be a welcoming people who passionately pursue justice, peace, and flourishing for all of our neighbors. I think this book can serve to cultivate that passion and is an invitation to get to know a few neighbors we may have forgotten.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chara

    It can be difficult to get a feeling for the issues facing our world when we see the news, but this book uses storytelling to make political issues feel more personal and does so beautifully. I learned a lot reading this book while remaining engaged as I followed the tales of two mothers whose stories were intertwined by love for a child. Fascinating read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aretha Grant

    PLEASE read this book. This book is AMAZING. Lupe’s and Julia’s story keeps you on the edge of your seat. I experienced so many emotions while reading it and need to know more about them. In addition, Gena pulls back the curtain on her own life, feelings, and thoughts. She shares her pain, doubts, fears, and shortcomings. I’m so glad I read Separated by the Border and will encourage all my family and friends to read it as well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lesa Engelthaler

    An incredible, at times painfully raw, page-turner about two mothers from different worlds who found each other because of one scrappy migrant girl. It is also packed with tons of “I never knew that” helpful facts about immigration and foster care. But, ultimately it is a picture of the undaunted mother love of God. The kind of God who, “sees beauty in the places we’re scared of, in the people we’d rather not talk to, in the middle of messes we rather shy away from.” Thomas writes that she hopes An incredible, at times painfully raw, page-turner about two mothers from different worlds who found each other because of one scrappy migrant girl. It is also packed with tons of “I never knew that” helpful facts about immigration and foster care. But, ultimately it is a picture of the undaunted mother love of God. The kind of God who, “sees beauty in the places we’re scared of, in the people we’d rather not talk to, in the middle of messes we rather shy away from.” Thomas writes that she hopes the book will conjure up the question,"How can we as Christians love our neighbors well, especially in such a divided America?" Highly recommend!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I picked up my copy of Gena Thomas’ Separated By the Border on the way to my nephew’s fourth birthday party. As he tore open his gifts, his parents gently (and not so gently) admonished his siblings and cousins that the presents were his possessions, owned by him. When they tried to touch or help him with his gifts, he grabbed them out of their hands and emphatically declared, “Mine!” From the time we are born our Western individualist and consumerist values are inculcated into our psyche, intro I picked up my copy of Gena Thomas’ Separated By the Border on the way to my nephew’s fourth birthday party. As he tore open his gifts, his parents gently (and not so gently) admonished his siblings and cousins that the presents were his possessions, owned by him. When they tried to touch or help him with his gifts, he grabbed them out of their hands and emphatically declared, “Mine!” From the time we are born our Western individualist and consumerist values are inculcated into our psyche, introduced as the foundation of our vocabulary, and integrated into our theology. As I became engrossed by Gena’s memoir, I could not help but juxtapose the collectivist perspective of her foster daughter Julia, whose possessions were shared property. Is this not the Christianity to which we have been commissioned in Acts 4:32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Gena Thomas’ Separated By the Border is a braid of three stories. It’s the story of Julia and how a five year old Honduran girl came to be fostered by a family in the United States and how she was reunited with her mom, Lupe. It’s the story of Lupe and how she was separated from her daughter and how she was willing to return to the border if it meant being reunited faster. It’s the story of Gena, an Evangelical Christian former missionary to Central America, fiercely fighting against hierarchical propensities and a white savior complex, who describes foster care as “the holiest of shit I’ve ever experienced.” and yet “If Sabbath were a place, this would be it.” Lack of family is a deep poverty, but the gospel happens when we “waddle like idiots through this disastrous beauty.” Separated By the Border is a portrait of ecofeminism, the deep connection between women and Mother Earth, revealed by the life-giving power of women, fertile or not. Our Heavenly Father is also our Earthly Mother, who sacrificed His Son to bring His adoptive children everlasting nourishment. It is a collective call to rescue our sister Justice, whose chains affect women, men, children and to establish shalom on the mutual ground from which we all come and on which we all live. It is about a God who is calling down the hierarchies and a gospel that wipes them out as all have fallen short and all are in need of a Savior. “I’m still recovering from my white savior complex...a desire to fix others’ problems with my resources and my privilege, creating a counterfeit sense of worth.” It is the difference between walking alongside others and listening and walking up to them and telling. It is about desperation which “wraps its arms around her uninvited. She falls apart and falls asleep in its cocoon. She will be made new. But not yet, not now. Now she feels as though she will die and turn to dust. She’s not far from welcoming death, as earth is hell. There is an abyss separating her from her daughter, and she swears it will swallow her whole. Desperation is the shadow that follows her around.” Separated By the Border is a river of redemption. At one river, Julia is separated from her mother. At another river, Julia is reunited with her mother and revived to her childhood. A river is not meant to divide. Rather, a river is meant for swimming, bathing, cleaning clothes, holding your breath, jumping off rocks and making a splash. It is at the river Julia is baptized a new creation of her former self. Separated By the Border holds up a mirror to our culture and invites us to be baptized into our commission to love our neighbor and lament for Christ the Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC) for the Adulting you had to do at such a young age. for the Bonds that must get prematurely cut. for the Control you should have over your life but you dont. for the Decisions made without your input. for the Environment you had to grow up in. for the 'Foster' put before your name, and the prejudice that will come from it. for the Grotesque scenes you've witnessed. for the Heaviness you carry with you. for the Isolation you constantly feel. for the Juxtaposing you do daily between your life and everyone else's. for the Knowledge that has come to you out of its proper order. for the Lying you've learned to mimic. for the Mountains others will call mole hills. for the Notes home from teachers that wouldn't be there if ... for the Opportunities that never were. for the Pains of growing up that will be deeper than most kids your age. for the Questions that may never be answered. for the Rights that may terminate or may not terminate. for the Songs of childhood you never learned to sing. for the Tension you may always hold between your past and your future. for the Unwillingness for most people to understand you. for the Visions of horror and the visions of home you hold in your minds eye. for the Ways the people of God have not been intentional about loving you. for the Xrays that show & don't show the abuse. for the Youth that was stolen and will never fully return. for the Zeniths of times with blood family that may all be in the past. for this I pray. for this I lament. For the ways in which I have been selfish in my love for you, I lament, I repent. Christ have mercy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Justin Lonas

    Simultaneously a tender memoir and a bold call for justice for the immigrant the oppressed and the orphan. Proud of my friend Gena and her courage and vulnerability in sharing this story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Kuja

    Gena Thomas is a master in the art of storytelling and Separated by the Border is the canvas on which she creates a masterpiece. But reader be warned--this work of art is as haunting as it is beautiful. It unsettles and disrupts as all truly great art does. Encountering the story of Gena, Julia, and Lupe places the reader at the pointed center of the terror and the hope that in tandem compel many Latin Americans to seek safety from violence, poverty, and oppression in the United States. We often Gena Thomas is a master in the art of storytelling and Separated by the Border is the canvas on which she creates a masterpiece. But reader be warned--this work of art is as haunting as it is beautiful. It unsettles and disrupts as all truly great art does. Encountering the story of Gena, Julia, and Lupe places the reader at the pointed center of the terror and the hope that in tandem compel many Latin Americans to seek safety from violence, poverty, and oppression in the United States. We often hear the statistics and see the news coverage, but rarely are we offered an intimate account of what it really means to be a child taken from her mother or a mother grieving the loss of her little girl --or a foster mother who is incipiently cast as a central figure in a dormant hope of their reunification. Raw, real, and devoid of any egoic renditioning, Separated by the Border is a narrative canvas that invites the reader to gaze deeply into the realities faced by asylum seekers. This book gives literary proximity to the deep scars, the shearing trauma, and the penetrating courage of two lion-hearted mothers whose stories converge in the crucible of US immigration policy, the trauma of violated bodies, and how the divine is at work in the midst of the most painful places and the most shattered of hearts.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sflisa

    This book is deeply challenging. What drives a mother to risk everything and bring her child to an unknown country? What happens when that mother and child are separated? How can we as Christians love those who are stretched to the point of desperation? This is the story of Lupe, Julia and Gena. It’s a hard, painful, heartbreaking story. It’s a beautiful and hopeful story as well. Lupe was attempting to come to the U.S. with her daughter, Julia. After braving the dangers of their home country an This book is deeply challenging. What drives a mother to risk everything and bring her child to an unknown country? What happens when that mother and child are separated? How can we as Christians love those who are stretched to the point of desperation? This is the story of Lupe, Julia and Gena. It’s a hard, painful, heartbreaking story. It’s a beautiful and hopeful story as well. Lupe was attempting to come to the U.S. with her daughter, Julia. After braving the dangers of their home country and the journey north, Lupe and Julia are separated. Lupe is sent back to Honduras as Julia remained in the U.S. Their story intersects with Gena when Gena’s family takes Julia in as a foster child. With no easy or trite answers, “Separated by the Border” shares the complicated and traumatic story of a birth mother, a foster mother, and a migrant child’s journey. It demonstrates the tenacious love of a mother, and the love we can have for one another in our places of deepest need. No matter where you sit on immigration policy, please read this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I read this book while my own three year old daughter climbed on me and played without a care in the world. The juxtaposition of my daughters life and Julia’s makes my heart ache. Gena’s book is compelling and incredibly thought provoking. The care and caution she’s taken to tell Lupe and Julia’s story is so apparent. This is a book everyone needs to read if you’ve ever experienced the pang of sadness and helplessness that comes with hearing about the United States crisis at the southern border. I read this book while my own three year old daughter climbed on me and played without a care in the world. The juxtaposition of my daughters life and Julia’s makes my heart ache. Gena’s book is compelling and incredibly thought provoking. The care and caution she’s taken to tell Lupe and Julia’s story is so apparent. This is a book everyone needs to read if you’ve ever experienced the pang of sadness and helplessness that comes with hearing about the United States crisis at the southern border. Gena thoughtfully unpacks the complexities surrounding the foster care system and the decisions that lead people to risk so much for their families. This book does more than put a human face on a broad and seemingly anonymous tragedy but also compels the reader to examine how they can allow their lives to be woven together with people who are different then them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marvia Davidson

    Sometimes you come to a book with preconceived notion‘s. I’m just gonna tell you now, whatever preconceived notions you have about immigration, the border, foster care, and what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus - leave them at the front page. This book will challenge and change the way you think about all of these things. I enjoyed reading Gena’s book as it is a powerful story of love, reunification, the saddening and infuriating things that happen to our brothers and sisters who are s Sometimes you come to a book with preconceived notion‘s. I’m just gonna tell you now, whatever preconceived notions you have about immigration, the border, foster care, and what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus - leave them at the front page. This book will challenge and change the way you think about all of these things. I enjoyed reading Gena’s book as it is a powerful story of love, reunification, the saddening and infuriating things that happen to our brothers and sisters who are seeking a better life, and the desperate plea to make things right for our fellow humanity at the border and beyond. Gena writes with compassionate wrapped around a swift gut punch. This book will change you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Mark

    I couldn't put this powerful work down as I recently journeyed through Honduras, incredibly moved by the real-to-life human stories so often politicized in today's polarizing climate. Rising above this noise, Gena Thomas gently teaches what it means to live and lean into complexity; to discover the face of Christ on the margins; to see your own story of flourishing as somehow inextricably bound up with the least of these. In this humbly told masterpiece, flavorful writing and poetry take on toug I couldn't put this powerful work down as I recently journeyed through Honduras, incredibly moved by the real-to-life human stories so often politicized in today's polarizing climate. Rising above this noise, Gena Thomas gently teaches what it means to live and lean into complexity; to discover the face of Christ on the margins; to see your own story of flourishing as somehow inextricably bound up with the least of these. In this humbly told masterpiece, flavorful writing and poetry take on tough social and political issues, woven together and humanized by the mother love that binds these stories into one. Get this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    This is a book that every white American needs to read. Separated by the Border was awarded to me through GoodReads giveaways. It was one of the very first books that I entered to win, and so far, the only I have ever won. I was grateful for the extras that were included too: it was a very nice touch and I want to give thanks to the publishing company. I had an advance copy and I knew I wanted to write a review for it. A book like this deserves a review, and I felt that I was in a unique position This is a book that every white American needs to read. Separated by the Border was awarded to me through GoodReads giveaways. It was one of the very first books that I entered to win, and so far, the only I have ever won. I was grateful for the extras that were included too: it was a very nice touch and I want to give thanks to the publishing company. I had an advance copy and I knew I wanted to write a review for it. A book like this deserves a review, and I felt that I was in a unique position to do so, as I will explain shortly. However, life gets in the way, for so many reasons, and though I finished this book before it was officially released, my review has been delayed. Alas, here it is now. This book gets, on the GoodReads rating system, 4.5/5 stars from me. This review will not have a recap/summary. I work in education. I am a clerk at an elementary school. My school is high-poverty, nearly 90% non-white, and has a very high refugee and immigrant population. My position allows me to interact with the children outside of the classroom, and I get plenty of insight into many aspects of their lives. I work with children very much like [Separated by the Border's] Julia, I work with parents like Guadalupe, and though I have yet to see an exact parallel of the situation, I work with Foster parents like Gena. I was very excited to read this book once I received it. These stories need to be told. They are essential. They are vital. In the political and cultural environment of the United States as of this writing, they could make a difference that is, without exaggeration, life and death. I will state early here what put me off from this book. I am a very religious person, and my faith is important to me. However, I am not Christian. I know the company is a Christian company, and the author's faith was of immense importance to her. This was the only thing that made me a little uneasy, and it was purely personal, on me. Because of my own beliefs, I have encountered so many who do not truly follow Christ yet brandish the name, and it has left me a little bit uncertain. To the credit of Mrs. Thomas, however, she seems to be truly honest with her faith, and if it was important to her in her journey, it needed to be said. My own hang-ups were the main reason for any discomfort with the message, but I feel it needs to be noted for others with similar backgrounds. Religion is a big part of the story, so just be aware of this if that is an issue for you. The white savior complex is something that so many of us who try to be an ally need to be aware of, and Gena's struggle with this with immensely relatable and I commend her for stating it as it is. Ignorance is the true issue--if you are aware and call yourself out, growth truly happens. Thank you for doing that, author, because so many of us need to recognize this same dilemma in ourselves. The hardships of Lupe and Julia are told in a way that is not condescending. It is a statement of fact, not an elaborate, embellished piece of sensationalism. They are not told to be demeaning to a culture, country, area, or group of people: they are told as the truth that happened to one person. That being said, the same truths of what happens on the border need to be screamed just as loud. It is political enough to be informative, but not enough to call for the revolution that is so needed in direct words. HOWEVER, the story itself SHOULD enlighten those on the fence to realize what needs to be done. The bonus to this book, however, is that it is not just a book for those with concern or interest for immigrants and the border crisis. It is also a book that provides valuable solidarity for foster moms of any children. Gena's stories and struggles will remind you that you are not alone in this. It is okay to feel what you feel. It is okay for us all to feel what we feel, and this book is a journey for the readers as well as for the people involved in its pages. It is not an easy book. It is traumatic. It is hard to read in places. There are chapters that need the warnings that are posted before. The boxes including extra information, statistics, and facts make the truth stand out starkly. In this day and age, the truth needs to be screamed, tattooed and imprinted on us. Our eyes need to be forced open, we need to be dragged kicking and screaming to face these issues. We can't look away. You can't look away from this book. It is so needed right now. Thank you, Gena Thomas, for doing what you did. Thank you, Julia and Lupe for sharing your story. I can look at my students and see their own stories. This one walked on foot through the desert, leaving his mother behind. This one was at the camps, and her reading scores grow every year. They are multi-faceted, relatable children. They are *children*. They are the solution, and the future. If those filled with hate, at rallies shouting for immigrants to leave, realized that so many are just like they are, with their own stories, just trying to do the best by their children, their families, those they loved....if so many could have hearts that loved like in this book, the world could begin to recover. Thank you for this book. I will hug my students a little harder now, thinking about it again, as they get on the bus today.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Heartbreaking and eye-opening, this true story is a must read for every American. This book puts human faces to the immigration crisis we hear about in the news. Not only that, it shines a light on the issues in all aspects of immigration, including why people make a choice to leave their homes and the risks they face. This book also addresses foster care and the reunification of families. Reading this story opened my eyes and led me to a better perspective on the issues and how we can do better Heartbreaking and eye-opening, this true story is a must read for every American. This book puts human faces to the immigration crisis we hear about in the news. Not only that, it shines a light on the issues in all aspects of immigration, including why people make a choice to leave their homes and the risks they face. This book also addresses foster care and the reunification of families. Reading this story opened my eyes and led me to a better perspective on the issues and how we can do better. This is also a story of a mother's love and the power that holds.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Meador

    “Ultimately my hope in telling this story is for you to see the deep love of Christ through the love of this beautiful migrant mother.” Gena Thomas shares Lupe’s story and her difficult decision to migrate north in order to afford medicine for her sick grandfather and food and shelter for the rest of her family. This is a story of desperation, separation, emotional and physical trauma, reunification, and the beginning of healing. As Elie Weisel once said, “Let us remember: what hurts the victim “Ultimately my hope in telling this story is for you to see the deep love of Christ through the love of this beautiful migrant mother.” Gena Thomas shares Lupe’s story and her difficult decision to migrate north in order to afford medicine for her sick grandfather and food and shelter for the rest of her family. This is a story of desperation, separation, emotional and physical trauma, reunification, and the beginning of healing. As Elie Weisel once said, “Let us remember: what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.” May we hear their stories, listen to understand, lament, and be silent no more. Thomas discusses the policies and practices that impacted Lupe’s and Julia’s lives, including corrupt business practices dating back to the 1950’s that negatively impacted the Honduran economy, drug cartels and modern slavery, as well as current zero-tolerance separation policies. She shares about her own experiences with the Department of Health and Human Services, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, visiting a detention center, as well as the impact she witnessed in her foster daughter, including dissociative amnesia and other psychological ramifications of the trauma of separation, detention, and mistreatment. “I include this information [about the United Fruit Company/Chiquita] because it’s easy for people like me to think that the Honduran economy is where it is because workers are lazy or picky about the jobs they do. Reading through the history of what multinational corporations - many of which are American - have done in the name of capitalism to the economies of Central and South American countries must make us recognize that our complicity in maintaining the American status quo has led to creating this immigration crisis. Economic colonialism is an effective and ongoing method of our current capitalistic economy … When we learn about the history and we hear stories of people involved, we start to see the complex reality beyond headlines and sound bites.” “Lupe’s story has a way of pushing me to the edges of my doubt. Why did God forsake her on her journey north? Why does God forsake so many who make the same journey? Sometimes I don’t want to lament. I don’t want to pray. I don’t want anything to do with spiritual disciplines because I don’t want to talk to a God who forsakes people. There are moments when I want to flip over whatever table God is sitting at. There are moments that the brokenness is too overwhelming, too sickening, too frightening. I want revenge on the people that harmed Lupe and Julia. Revenge on the messed-up systems. Revenge on the politicians who are completely out of touch with the humanity that’s broken by the decisions they make. Revenge on the drug cartels that see humans as economic pawns and nothing more. When humanity is truncated, when human beings are dehumanized, the question persists: has God forsaken us? Like Jesus, when darkness overtakes us, we cry out, ‘Why, God? Why have you forsaken us? How long, oh Lord?’ ... I don’t know how to answer my own doubts about God and suffering. But as writer Jonathan Merritt says, the phrase, ‘I don’t know’ is holy.” “God - whom I’ve long known as Forgiving Father - I now also see as Inclusive Mother. God births life and cares about every child’s needs. Like Lupe, who risked the wrath of the coyotes to miraculously breastfeed a child not her own, God risks and sacrifices to bring us all into her everlasting nourishment. In the relentless love of Lupe, I saw the tenacity and power of God’s abundant love that disregards boundaries and labels. Indeed, there is no border that can separate us from the mother love of God.”

  28. 4 out of 5

    TJ McCloud

    I didn't want to read this book. I've spent much of my life working in Central America, and I thought I knew it all. I thought I knew the pressures and insanity that face asylum seekers and Central American immigrants pretty well. But, as Gena Thomas carefully and lovingly paints the unforgettable story of Guadelupe and little Julia, my heart broke open once again, seeing the invisible reality of immigration on our southern border. In vivid prose, author Gena Thomas illuminates the horrific trag I didn't want to read this book. I've spent much of my life working in Central America, and I thought I knew it all. I thought I knew the pressures and insanity that face asylum seekers and Central American immigrants pretty well. But, as Gena Thomas carefully and lovingly paints the unforgettable story of Guadelupe and little Julia, my heart broke open once again, seeing the invisible reality of immigration on our southern border. In vivid prose, author Gena Thomas illuminates the horrific tragedies and heroic sacrifices that so many Central American immigrant families face; many whose only goal is to ensure safety for their children. Written in a style that weaves in and out of two fiercely dedicated mothers' perspectives; "Separated By the Border" could have been all about the author, whose family does a commendable thing by opening up their home to a child in need of a safe place. Instead, the story is squarely focused on the heart-pounding saga this unsuspecting foster family gets drawn into; one of a loving mother forcibly separated from her daughter, and where none of the people involved start with a clear understanding of the reasons why or the resources needed to navigate our labyrinthine immigration legal system. Let me be clear; this isn't just a book for the "NPR crowd". This book isn't about political right or wrong. The author stays away from what could have been a predictably preachy tone. The book never takes readers on a guilt-trip. The story she tells is, instead, an eye-opening, fascinating window into world most of us will never know, but one that we live in the midst of, on top of and around, without ever sensing how close some people's stories truly are to us. Guadeloupe and Julia's story doesn't care if you're Red or Blue. If you allow the author to introduce you to these real, live people who are living out real, live stories, you'll come away feeling a strange mix of hope and inspiration as well as anger and indignation. Most of all, if you go on this journey, you'll be thankful to have known Guadelupe and Julia (and Gena, too) in a small way, and you, like me, might come away with clearer eyes and hearts than when we turned the first page.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    Separated by the Border A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child’s 3,000-Mile Journey by Gena Thomas InterVarsity Press IVP Books Christian , Religion & Spirituality Pub Date 29 Oct 2019 I am reviewing a copy of Separated by the Border through Intervarsity Press and Netgalley: In 2017 five year old Guadalupe traveled from Honduras to America with her Mother. The harrowing journey took her from Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. She was then separated from her Mother. she had b Separated by the Border A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child’s 3,000-Mile Journey by Gena Thomas InterVarsity Press IVP Books Christian , Religion & Spirituality Pub Date 29 Oct 2019 I am reviewing a copy of Separated by the Border through Intervarsity Press and Netgalley: In 2017 five year old Guadalupe traveled from Honduras to America with her Mother. The harrowing journey took her from Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. She was then separated from her Mother. she had been held hostage by Smugglers who exploited her Mother physically and financially. At the U.S Border Julia came through the processing center as an unaccompanied minor after being separated from her stepdad who had been deported. Gena Thomas tells the story of how Julia came to the United States, what she experienced in the system, and what it took to reunite her with her family. Gena A Spanish-speaking former missionary, became Julia’s foster mother and witnessed the ways migrant children experience trauma firsthand. Piecing together the stories of birth mother and foster mother, this book shows the human face of the immigrant and refugee, the challenges of the immigration and foster care systems, and the tenacious power of motherly love. I found the arguments, and the facts to back up those arguments to be well argued and well researched and therefore I find this book to be worthy of five out of five stars. Happy Reading!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nathalia

    Separated by The Border tells the story of the author's foster daughter, Julia, who was separated from her mother and stepfather at the Mexico/USA border. It sheds light on the complex reality of immigration by sharing the story of how the lives of two families merged. It is special how it wakes us of all of our humanity. And it is important because learning about something through the perspectives of someone who has been through it broaden our horizons and reduce the spaces where suspicion and Separated by The Border tells the story of the author's foster daughter, Julia, who was separated from her mother and stepfather at the Mexico/USA border. It sheds light on the complex reality of immigration by sharing the story of how the lives of two families merged. It is special how it wakes us of all of our humanity. And it is important because learning about something through the perspectives of someone who has been through it broaden our horizons and reduce the spaces where suspicion and intolerance can grow. It informs you, breaks your heart and brings hope all at once. I'm usually a slow reader but I devoured this one!

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