La Linea Essay

Words: 2316
Pages: 10

Book Review La Linea

By Julia Hager


In her novel La Linea, Ann Jaramillo tells the story of fifteen-year-old Miguel, who leaves his home in Mexico to illegally cross the US-Mexican border. He leaves for California, where his parents and two of his sisters have lived for the past seven years. His parents left first, in order to make money for their children to cross la linea later. Miguel and his younger sister Elena thus live with their grandmother on a rancho in the small Mexican village San Jacinto. On his fifteenth birthday, Miguel receives the letter he has waited for his entire life. A letter from his father tells him to go see Don Clemente, a rich and successful immigrant smuggler. Don Clemente provides Miguel with
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By making these decisions, he has to deal with difficult moral questions. His determination to get them across the border makes him forget about loyalty and friendship. Elena would not leave Javier behind at any point, whereas Miguel takes advantage of Javier one day and would leave him behind as soon as he becomes a burden for them. Elena’s behaviour shows characteristic qualities of Mexican collectivist culture. Miguel’s mentality is more goal-oriented and individualist, probably a reason why he felt more at home in America.

In the last paragraph of the book, Miguel realizes that it is not the physical borders that make the difference. He looks at himself in the mirror: “There’s the same old Miguel I was in San Jacinto, just a little taller [...] On the outside, the same me. Inside, it’s different. I thought I’d find the real Miguel, the one I thought I couldn’t be in Mexico, once I crossed la linea. I didn’t understand that there are thousands of lineas to cross in a life.” (118) Even before he left his home, he had already crossed a border in his mind, by making the decision to leave. Before he leaves home, he looks at himself in the mirror: “I hardly recognized me. Somehow, it seemed my outside hadn’t caught up with my inside.” (35)


Ann Jaramillo succeeds in combining an adventurous plot with a sophisticated cultural message. First of all, it is easy to empathize with either Miguel or Elena