I have mixed feelings about this novel and not just about its authenticity. I certainly have no legitimate knowledge of the Mexican-American experience. This book opens with a massacre which Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca manage to escape by hiding in the shower. The remainder of the novel recounts their harrowing journey, partly by freight train, from their home in Acapulco to el norte—the U.S. At face value, this is an adventure story, grounded by Lydia’s fierce vow to herself to protect her son, at all costs. Along the way, she trusts people that she should not and is wary of people whose only motive is to help her; she definitely walks a tightrope between paranoia and a firm belief in the innate goodness of people that gradually erodes as she occasionally comes face to face with a stunning betrayal. The biggest betrayal is from the beginning when an erudite man named Javier becomes her friend and then murders her family. Javier is as unrealistic an example of a druglord as Lydia is of a migrant. She is not fleeing poverty; rather she is fleeing Javier’s watchful eye and his possible desire to finish off Luca and Lydia, despite the fact that he is in love with her. She is plagued by guilt, and that sentiment to me is perhaps the most inauthentic aspect of the novel. She does not kill her family; the cartel does. She also did not write the newspaper piece that caused Javier to lash out in revenge; her husband did, and he paid the ultimate price. She had no way of knowing the domino effect that the article would ultimately have. I could perhaps relate to her emotions better if survivor’s guilt were in play here, but that’s really not the case. And I get that the author wanted to shed some light on the migrant’s plight, but Lydia is not at all typical. She is well-educated, and her son speaks perfect English. He also has a photographic memory when it comes to geography. Really? Does such a thing exist?