In this riveting, action-packed novel from award-winning author Will Hobbs, a teenage boy hoping to help his loved ones must fight for his life as he makes the dangerous journey across the Mexican border into the United States. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.
When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to "cross the wire" from Mexico into America so he can find work and help ease the finances at home.
But with no coyote money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor struggles to survive as he jumps trains, stows away on trucks, and hikes grueling miles through the Arizona desert.
Victor's passage is fraught with freezing cold, scorching heat, hunger, and dead ends. It's a gauntlet run by many attempting to cross the border, but few make it. Through Victor's desperate perseverance, Will Hobbs brings to life a story that is true for many, polarizing for some, but life-changing for all who read it.
Acclaim for Crossing the Wire includes the following: New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, Junior Library Guild Selection, Americas Awards Commended Title, Heartland Award, Southwest Book Award, and Notable Books for Global Society.
About the Author
Will Hobbs is the award-winning author of nineteen novels, including Far North, Crossing the Wire, and Take Me to the River.
Never Say Die began with the author's eleven-day raft trip in 2003 down the Firth River on the north slope of Canada's Yukon Territory. Ever since, Will has been closely following what scientists and Native hunters are reporting about climate change in the Arctic. When the first grolar bear turned up in the Canadian Arctic, he began to imagine one in a story set on the Firth River.
A graduate of Stanford University, Will lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
Crossing the Wire
By Will Hobbs
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Will Hobbs
All right reserved.
The end was coming, but I didn't see it coming.
I was done for the day. The sun had set, my shovel was on my shoulder, and I was walking up the path to the village. As I passed under a high stone wall, my mind only on my empty stomach, a shadowy figure swooped down on me with a shriek that could have raised the dead. I let out a yelp and leaped out of the way.
"Scared you," cried my best friend, Rico Rivera. "Scared you bad, Victor Flores."
I shook my shovel at him. "'Mano, you're lucky I didn't attack you with this."
"What did you think I was?"
"A flying cow, you maniac."
"You should have heard yourself! You squealed like a pig!"
I could only laugh. It had been a long time since Rico had pulled a trick like this. This was the way it used to be with Rico and me, until three years ago, when Rico started trade school in the city of Silao. He lived there now with his sister, whose husband worked at the General Motors plant. Sometimes Rico came home to the village on weekends, but I wouldn't always see him. We were fifteen years old now, with life pulling us in different directions, but we still called each other 'mano. We were hermanos in our hearts. Actual brothers couldn't have grown up much closer.
Rico puthis arm around my shoulder. "I have something to tell you, Victor." Suddenly he wasn't joking around. "Follow me," Rico said gravely. "I have a secret to show you."
"You know how I hate secrets. I thought there weren't any between us."
"A couple of minutes, and there won't be."
Dusk was deepening as Rico led me past the village church, past the cemetery and the dirt field where we'd played futbol and beisbol ever since I could remember. I followed my friend to the old village, abandoned after an earthquake hundreds of years before. All that remained, overgrown with brush, vines, and cactus, were the stone walls built to hold back the hillside. The moon was up, but its light was weak and eerie. This was a place to stay away from.
Rico paused where one of these ancient walls was especially thick with giant prickly pear. "We have to crawl underneath the cactus," he announced.
I wasn't so sure.
"It should be easy for you, Victor. C'mon, Tortuga."
Only Rico called me Turtle. It was a little joke of his. With his long legs, he'd always been the better sprinter, but not by much. "Turtle," though, was only partly about running. Mostly it had to do with my cautiousness.
Here and now, I had reason to be cautious. This was where my four sisters collected cactus fruit and also the pads for roasting as nopales. Teresa, the oldest of my sisters, always carried a stick on account of the rattlesnakes.
Unlike Rico, I was afraid of rattlesnakes. "It's too murky to be crawling in there," I told him.
"I know what you're afraid of, but it's the middle of March. They haven't come out yet. Just follow me."
As always, Rico went first. Once inside, we sat next to each other, our backs to the ancient wall. "Just like the old days," Rico said.
I liked hearing him say that, but it wasn't like Rico to be sentimental. What was this all about? Maybe it was going to be a trick after all. There would be no secret.
"Watch this," Rico said as he reached into a crevice and brought out a small glass jar. With a gleam in his eye, he placed it in my hand. In the patchy moonlight, I had to bring the jar close to my face to make out what was inside. It was a roll of money, and not pesos. American greenbacks, with the number 100 showing. "How much?" I gasped.
"There are fifteen of those. You're looking at one thousand, five hundred American dollars."
I was astounded. In school I had learned to convert kilos to pounds and kilometers to miles. But pesos to dollars was different, floating up and down. The last I heard, it was eleven to one. That meant this was more than sixteen thousand pesos. My family could get by for more than a year on this much money. "I don't understand," I said. "Your parents gave it to you?"
"My parents? Did you hit your head, 'mano?"
"Did you win the lottery? Is the money yours, Rico?"
"It's mine. It's from one of my brothers in the States. It's my coyote money."
The expression meant only one thing. Coyotes were the smugglers who took people across the border to El Norte.
It didn't seem possible. "You're leaving for the other side?"
"Yes, I'm leaving Mexico. I'm going to cross the wire. Destination, the United States of America."
Excerpted from Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs Copyright © 2006 by Will Hobbs. Excerpted by permission.
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