Breaking Through

by Francisco Jiménez

“I lived in constant fear for ten long years, from the time I was four until... read more

“I lived in constant fear for ten long years, from the time I was four until I was fourteen years old.” In this opening sentence of Breaking Through , Francisco Jiménez summarizes much of the emotional landscape chronicled in his first novel, The Circuit (University of New Mexico Press, 1997). In this new book, Jiménez picks up his story at age 14. No longer on the migrant circuit, Francisco and his family relish the stability of living in one place. This is threatened when the border patrol finds out that Francisco, his older brother, Roberto, and their mother are in the United States illegally. Rather than separate, the whole family returns to Mexico. When they come again to the United States, it is with the paperwork that means they will no longer have to fear discovery. Francisco and Roberto contribute more and more to the economic support of their family, living by the incredible work ethic their father has modeled. They go to school during the day, working evenings and weekends. At school, Francisco shines with the support of some wonderful teachers, counselors, and friends, who help him toward college and his hope of becoming a teacher. At home, years of constant struggle have taken a physical and emotional toll on their father. His dark moods are exacerbated when Francisco begins to act “American,” taking interest in popular music and talking back. Their mother smoothes things over, holding her family together and encouraging her children’s dreams in this inspiring and compelling work of autobiographical fiction. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002

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