The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

by Francisco Jimenez


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After dark in a Mexican border town, a father holds open a hole in a wire fence as his wife and two small boys crawl through.

So begins life in the United States for many people every day. And so begins this collection of twelve autobiographical stories by Santa Clara University professor Francisco Jiménez, who at the age of four illegally crossed the border with his family in 1947.

"The Circuit," the story of young Panchito and his trumpet, is one of the most widely anthologized stories in Chicano literature. At long last, Jiménez offers more about the wise, sensitive little boy who has grown into a role model for subsequent generations of immigrants.

These independent but intertwined stories follow the family through their circuit, from picking cotton and strawberries to topping carrots—and back agai—over a number of years. As it moves from one labor camp to the next, the little family of four grows into ten. Impermanence and poverty define their lives. But with faith, hope, and back-breaking work, the family endures.

"A jewel of a book"—Rolando Hinojosa-Smith

"These stories are so realistic they choke the heart."—Rudolfo Anaya

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826317971
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Publication date: 10/01/1997
Pages: 146
Sales rank: 37,202
Product dimensions: 4.75(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.38(d)
Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

About the Author

Francisco Jiménez emigrated from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, to California, where he worked for many years in the fields with his family. He received both his master's degree and his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is now chairman of the Modern Languages and Literature Department at Santa Clara University, the setting of much of Reaching Out. He is the award-winning author of The Circuit, Breaking Through, La Mariposa, and his newest novel, Reaching Out. He lives in Santa Clara, California, with his family.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Readers of this book will gain insight into...the lives of immigrant families." Book Links November 2007 Book Links, ALA

Customer Reviews

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Circuit 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is 90 pages long, but the story itself is about 75 pages of that. I paid $1.99 for this. The book was very good, up until the end. Then it just stops. It was like hitting a concrete block wall, going 80 mph. There are at least three more books in this series. The next two are $5.99 plus tax each. I will not be purchasing them. I would nothave purchased this one, if someone had said how many pages it had, it was a cliffhanger and it is first person. This book is told over several years by an illeagal, migrant worker, from Mexico. It was interesting and is based on the author's life, but it is a work of fiction. It is a good, clean read. Just not much to it. It took me less than an hour and a half to read it. I feel ripped off. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Circuit was an enjoyable, easy to read book because each story was it's own chapter. I liked hearing about how life was for Francisco growing up as a migrant child in the United States. I think the author was really good at describing what it was like to be living and working as a migrant family. He was also able to make me feel like I could see and experience all of the details of things he was describing; like working on the plantations, the different scenes and places and the feelings and emotions of all the characters in the stories. The author used both English and Spanish in the book, which I liked because I learned some new words and had a better feel for the culture and customs of the family. The family had many challenges and hard times but they always worked together as a family and supported each other. I am not so sure I would be able to work as hard as they did just to keep food on the table. I would recommend this book to people to read so everyone could realize how hard some people have to work to get the things other people take for granted.
EzekielR More than 1 year ago
The Circuit an excellent story! i think this a very good story for immigrants that want a better life and education for their children. For immigrants family that need jobs and a house to live. The ending its very sad and fustrated. -Demmie Garcia
Mary_M More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book to people of all ages. I recommend it because he tells about the determination and work ethic that Mexican immigrants displayed. The Circuit reminds us that migrant workers lose friends when they move. It reminds us that friendship is important and we should value it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little boy named Francisco has to live a hard life. Francisco and his family live in poverty and do not have a life long job. They work in the fields and pick cotten. When the cotten season is over they move to a new placc e to do more work for other people. They face many stugges along the way. They are afraid that they will not be able to aford anything to keep the family togather. We have an easy life compared to those who have to have to live through poverty everyday of their life. I would recomend this book to anyone who has to face the stuggels of moving to a new place all the time.
Inspire_Belief More than 1 year ago
I am a principal of a school where 92 percent of the students live in poverty. A large number of children in my school are migrant, asylee or refugee children. I chose to read this book as a way to reflect on "my" children's stories. I believe we are better educators when we try to understand our students' lives. The stories in this book reminded me of the challenges and obstacles my kids face. I enjoyed this book. I didn't like the ending (not the author's fault.. I just wanted to know what happened!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read
indygo88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For any age reader, this is an enlightening look into the life of a young Mexican boy who, along with his family, spends a majority of his growing years circulating from place to place in southern California, dependent upon the growing seasons of various fruits/vegetables to find work. It shows his struggles to fit in as a largely non-English speaker, his constantly disruptive school attendance, & his family's strength to endure in order to survive. As an educational book, I think this would spark lively conversation & debate, and the ending was not what I ultimately expected. As a piece of literature, it's fair. It's more a collection of short stories, that, when put together, don't always necessarily flow evenly, but they do present a good snapshot as a whole. As someone who is "on the fence", so to speak, about the illegal immigration issue here in the United States, I found this collection thought-provoking & look forward to discussing it with my fellow book clubbers.
rfewell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this one during library school as a *diversity read*. It was a great story about a boy who is a migrant laborer. The most moving part of the story is Fransisco in the fields practicing his English from a tiny notepad that he kept in his pocket while he picked in the fields with his family. Many kids in my neighborhood library have had to read this over the summer, and I love putting it in the hands of kids who have lived this experience and in those for whom this will be the only glimpse into what their classmates have struggled with.
JosephJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great read. Offers interesting and moving insight into the world of Mexican immigrant workers and their families. Nice companion piece to The Grapes of Wrath. Jimenez really captures the voice of his childhood self, which makes the essays all the more compelling.
voracious on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enoyed this collection of short stories based upon the author's childhood experiences growing up as a migrant farm worker in California. Though his stories were heartbreaking, I felt he balanced them well with moments of compassion...teachers who reached out to him, butchers who left meat on the bones they were buying, and friends that stuck by him. The author described living in shacks and tents, his father's struggle to feed their ever growing family, following the crops around the state, and constantly worrying about la migra. An amazing story that details the author's early and ultimately successful steps toward the pursuit of the American dream.
WeeziesBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding book to help us better understand the lives of migrant families. Francisco is a wonderful gentleman and his second book, "Breaking Through" is equally compelling.
gkuhns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This stark but ultimately hopeful book details the life of a family of migrant workers who illegally cross the border into California. The author describes a childhood--his own--split between hard manual farm labor and the classroom. While much of this life is difficult, the story is also interspersed with humor and the ordinary frustrations of any childhood spent in a large family. This book is written simply enough to be accessible to most junior high readers and would be an excellent addition to a multicultural collection.
mathqueen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Circuit follows a family as they cross the border between Mexico and America. They begin the arduous task of finding work and surviving in a place they thought would let them forget the poverty of Mexico. One of the main themes illustrated in the story is the importance of education. Education was thought to be the essential tool for success in American and Francisco¿s parents were determined to provide this for their children. This theme is mirrored in the attitudes of Latinos coming to America today. Eighty-six percent of Hispanic parents agree that virtually all students are better off attending college than taking a job right out of high school (Gasbarra and Johnson, 2008). The unfortunate reality is that the education Latino Americans receive when arriving in America is not always equal to the education of their American peers. Language barriers, cultural differences and economic difficulties make it difficult for Latino children to finish high school, and even fewer have the luxury of looking ahead to college. (Pew Hispanic Center, 2005)Library Implications: This book has many themes that could be explored by the middle school student, with the most obvious being the life and movement of the migrant worker based on the availability of work. Younger students could focus on the everyday life and possessions of the migrant worker as compared to their own lifestyles. On a philosophical level, older students could compare the social and political attitudes of Latinos and Americans during the Depression Era and modern times. This could be completed through the use of news media related to border issues and amnesty concerns. Mock news reports and interviews could be produced and posted on a blog for comments from other classes.References:Gasbarra, Paul and Johnson, Jean. A Matter of Trust: Ten Key Insights from Recent Public Opinion Research on Attitudes About Education Among Hispanic Parents, Students and Young Adults. New York: Public Agenda Press.Pew Hispanic Research Center. (2005). Hispanics: A People on the Move .Washington, D. C.: Pew Hipanic Research Organization.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is good and interesting athough it ends in a cliff hanger! I do not like this because i had to read the book for school. It is very short, only takes a couple of hours to read. Almost every chapter has a long time difference to the previous one and it gets confusing sometimes. Good Book.
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I love this book.Read it in a couple of hours.MUST READ!!
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