Title: A Journey Toward Hope
Illustrator: Susan Guevara
Publisher: Six Foot Press
Review Copy: Final copy via publisher
Availability: On shelves now
Summary: Every year, roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors arrive at the US/Mexico border to present themselves for asylum or related visas. The majority of these children are non-Mexicans fleeing the systemic violence of Central America’s “Northern Triangle”: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. A Journey Toward Hope tells the story of Rodrigo, a 14-year-old escaping Honduran violence; Alessandra, a 10-year-old Guatemalan whose first language is Q’eqchi’; and the Salvadoran siblings Laura and Nando. Though their reasons for making the journey are different and the journey northward is perilous, the four children band together, finding strength in one another as they share the dreams of their past and the hopes for their future. Written in collaboration with Baylor University’s Global Hunger and Migration Project, A Journey Toward Hope is a celebration of their humanity and an ode to the power of hope and connection even in the face of uncertainty and fear.
Review: A Journey Toward Hope helps show the diversity of those coming into the US from the south. They are coming from many different places and situations. Their humanity is shown and young readers can see that unaccompanied minors go through much to get to the border asking for asylum. Though we don't get to know each character well, they are distinct and they each have hopes and dreams for their future.
The artwork is lovely and the addition of the animals related to each character will likely make it more appealing to young readers, but also simply adds a creative beauty to the story. The train, La Bestia, also has a beast shown that emphasizes the danger of that way of traveling without making it too overwhelming for young readers. Without visually showing how people may be injured or killed, it still communicates the fear and risks.
The end notes are excellent and I was glad to see a map that shows the places mentioned in the text. It also shows the paths that each of the characters travel. There are suggestions on how people can be involved in addressing the needs of migrant children. The illustrator's notes are also wonderful and explain that she was trying to show the importance of connections and relationships.
Recommendation: This is a wonderful addition to any library. There is a lot of confusion about unaccompanied minors and this is one way for readers to learn more about them in an age appropriate way. Many facts are shared through the end notes and through the story we see the emotional aspects. This will be a great way to start discussions with young people and I would venture to say there are many adults who could also benefit from this story and information.