Author and illustrator Tonatiuh (Danza!, 2017, etc.) turns the light of his distinctive style on the plight of undocumented workers.
While the origins of undocumented workers are diverse, this story focuses primarily on the experiences of Juan, a Mixteco immigrant from Mexico. When Juan’s father passes away, he heads north in hopes of finding work and housing through his uncle who already lives in the United States, making the treacherous journey with the help of a coyote. Juan ultimately finds a job working for a restaurant, where he meets his wife and a new friend from China who helps connect him to a center for workers rights. Through the center he becomes an advocate not only for himself, but other Mixteco immigrants and, indeed, immigrants from around the world, both documented and undocumented. Tonatiuh’s illustrations, inspired by the styles of native Mesoamericans, are bound in a folded codex which also harkens to the author’s and protagonist’s Indigenous Mexican roots and is reminiscent of Jose Manuel Mateo’s Migrant (2014). By focusing on the narrative of one immigrant worker, Tonatiuh breaks the mammoth issues of immigration and workers rights into an easy-to-swallow bite, allowing the reader to easily engage with an often intimidating topic. The personal is again political.
Highly recommended. (Graphic novel. 8-14)