A debut novel about a timely issue elucidated with an insider’s understanding and sensitivity.



A heart-rending novel by a former U.S. Border Patrol agent that explores how Mexican migrant workers are willing to endanger their lives for the prospect of better ones in America.

After legal Mexican migrant labor is discontinued in 1965, Miguel’s first illegal entry into the United States terrifies him. A kindly farmer takes him in, but his Mexican-American farmhand, Ohscar, is so desperate to maintain his own family’s newfound financial stability that he reports Miguel’s presence to the Border Patrol, with disastrous consequences. Meanwhile, Ohscar’s teenage son Javier has few social or education options. In an act of rebellion, he agrees to be the driver for the moronic Chuy, a “coyote” who smuggles undocumented immigrants across the border and who foolishly wants to branch out into drugs. The lives of these three men and their families intersect for the next three decades as they experience successes and frequent misfortunes. They’re complex characters who occasionally do wrong things, but they all realize their errors or pay the price for them (with the exception of the irredeemably evil Chuy). Harpold’s sympathetic account touches on union organizing and Cesar Chavez, but more extensively explicates the naïveté, vulnerability and desperation of workers and the exploitation they still experience despite myriad changes in policy and law—not just from employers, but from “coyotes” as well. Harpold, who worked for the U.S. Border Patrol, interestingly depicts agents as vindictive and officious. If the novel has a flaw, however, it’s that it portrays some of its Mexican characters as almost childlike in their naïveté. Overall, this sad but realistic tale challenges its readers to examine the stereotypes of migrant workers and undocumented immigrants and the ultimate costs of cheap labor.

A debut novel about a timely issue elucidated with an insider’s understanding and sensitivity.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1940598055

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Book Publishers Network

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?