In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.
When Enrique is five years old, his mother, Lourdes, too poor to feed her children, leaves Honduras to work in the United States. The move allows her to send money back home to Enrique so he can eat better and go to school past the third grade.
Lourdes promises Enrique she will return quickly. But she struggles in America. Years pass. He begs for his mother to come back. Without her, he becomes lonely and troubled. When she calls, Lourdes tells him to be patient. Enrique despairs of ever seeing her again. After eleven years apart, he decides he will go find her.
Enrique sets off alone from Tegucigalpa, with little more than a slip of paper bearing his mother’s North Carolina telephone number. Without money, he will make the dangerous and illegal trek up the length of Mexico the only way he can–clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains.
With gritty determination and a deep longing to be by his mother’s side, Enrique travels through hostile, unknown worlds. Each step of the way through Mexico, he and other migrants, many of them children, are hunted like animals. Gangsters control the tops of the trains. Bandits rob and kill migrants up and down the tracks. Corrupt cops all along the route are out to fleece and deport them. To evade Mexican police and immigration authorities, they must jump onto and off the moving boxcars they call El Tren de la Muerte—The Train of Death. Enrique pushes forward using his wit, courage, and hope–and the kindness of strangers. It is an epic journey, one thousands of immigrant children make each year to find their mothers in the United States.
Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, Enrique’s Journey is the timeless story of families torn apart, the yearning to be together again, and a boy who will risk his life to find the mother he loves.
Praise for Enrique’s Journey
“Magnificent . . . Enrique’s Journey is about love. It’s about family. It’s about home.”—The Washington Post Book World
“[A] searing report from the immigration frontlines . . . as harrowing as it is heartbreaking.”—People (four stars)
“Stunning . . . As an adventure narrative alone, Enrique’s Journey is a worthy read. . . . Nazario’s impressive piece of reporting [turns] the current immigration controversy from a political story into a personal one.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Gripping and harrowing . . . a story begging to be told.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“[A] prodigious feat of reporting . . . [Sonia Nazario is] amazingly thorough and intrepid.”—Newsday
Praise & Awards for Enrique’s Journey
2011 Williams College Book Award Program, for “Enrique’s Journey”
2006 California Book Award, Silver Medal, Non-fiction
2006 Christopher Book Award
2003 Pulitzer Prize, feature writing, for “Enrique’s Journey”
2002 George Polk Award for International Reporting, for “Enrique’s Journey”
2002 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Outstanding Coverage of the Problems of the Disadvantaged, Grand Prize Winner, for “Enrique’s Journey”
"A prodigious feat of reporting . . . vivid and detailed . . . [Nazario is] amazingly thorough and intrepid.”—Newsday
“A stirring and troubling book about a magnificent journey. . . . It’s the stuff of myth . . . [but] Enrique’s Journey is true . . . A microcosm of the massive exodus pouring over the borders of our nations. . . . Enrique's suffering and bravery become universal, and one cannot fail to be moved by the desperation and sheer strength of spirit that guides these lonely wanderers. . . . Enrique’s Journey is about love. It’s about family. It’s about home. . . . The border will continue to trouble the dreams of anyone who is paying attention. . . . Enrique’s Journey is among the best border books yet written.”—The Washington Post Book World
“An amazing tale . . . for some journalists, research means sitting at a computer and surfing Google . . . For Sonia Nazario . . . it means leaving home for months at a time to sit on top of a moving freight train running the length of Mexico, risking gangsters and bandits and the occasional tree branch that might knock her off and thrust her under the wheels. It means not eating, drinking water or going to the bathroom for 16-hour stretches-all in service to the story.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Compelling . . . Nazario doesn’t pull any punches.”—Dallas Morning News
“[A] searing report from the immigration frontlines . . . as harrowing as it is heartbreaking. . . . [Nazario] is a fearless reporter who traveled hundreds of miles atop freight trains in order to palpably re-create the danger that faces young migrants as they flee north.”—People (four stars)
“Astounding . . . I am unaware of any journalist who has voluntarily placed herself in greater peril to nail down a story than did Nazario.”— Steve Weinberg, former Executive Director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, The Baltimore Sun
“A story of heartache, brutality, and love deferred that is near mythic in its power.”—Los Angeles Magazine
“Stunning . . . As an adventure narrative alone, Enrique’s Journey is a worthy read. . . . Nazario’s impressive piece of reporting . . . turn[s] the current immigration controversy from a political story into a personal one.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Gripping . . . astounding . . . viscerally conveys the experience of illegal immigration from Central America . . . [Nazario] has crafted her findings into a story that is at once moving and polemical.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A remarkable feat of immersion reporting . . . [Gives] the immigrant . . . flesh and bone, history and voice . . . The kind of story we have told ourselves throughout history, a story we still need to hear.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“This portrait of poverty and family ties has the potential to reshape American conversations about immigration.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A meticulously documented account of an epic journey, one undertaken by thousands of children every year . . . [Nazario] covers both positive and negative effects of immigration, illuminating the problem’s complexity. . . . In telling Enrique’s story [she] bears witness for us all.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Gripping and harrowing . . . a story begging to be told . . . readers fed up with the ongoing turf wars between fact and fiction, take note: Here is fantastic stunt reporting that places this sometimes hard-to-believe story squarely in the realm of nonfiction.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Compelling . . . drama, pathos, and [the] hot topic of illegal immigration.”—The San Diego Union-Tribune
“[Enrique’s Journey] personifies one of the greatest migrations in history. . . . Much of the book is a thriller . . . a 12,000-mile journey worthy of an Indiana Jones movie.”—The Orange County Register
“Riveting . . . expert reporting . . . Nazario puts a human face upon a major issue. . . . The breadth and depth of [her] research is astounding.”—The Plain Dealer
“A heart-racing and heart-rending trip.”—The Daily Nonpareil
“Insightful and beautifully written and sheds a great deal of light on the horrific journeys immigrants risk to find a better life. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
“A story readers won’t soon forget.”—Tu Ciudad
“This is a harrowing odyssey that depicts one young man's attempts to reunite with his mother and the social and economic issues involved in illegal immigration.”—Booklist
“This is a twenty-first-century Odyssey. Nazario’s powerful writing illuminates one of the darkest stories in our country. This is outstanding journalism. If you are going to read only one non-fiction book this year, it has to be this one, because you know these young heroes. They live next door. . . .”—Isabel Allende
“Enrique’s Journey is an empathetic glimpse into the Faustian bargain made by immigrants who leave family behind for a bet on the rewards of life in the North. Sonia Nazario’s brave reporting focuses particularly on a consequence of one woman’s departure from Central America: the horrific gauntlet suffered by her son as he traverses Mexico, often in the company of similar children, all of them in search of their parents.”—Ted Conover
“Here is an account of a boy’s childhood and youth that becomes a powerfully instructive summons to us readers, who grow into Enrique’s grateful, spellbound students. His life, his vivid search, teach a haunting lesson of suffering that turns into a kind of redemption.”—Robert Coles
“Enrique's Journey is an important, compelling, harrowing tale, one which will long stay with you. We should all be grateful that Sonia Nazario went to such extraordinary lengths to bring us this story. This is reportage at its finest, both courageous and passionate.”—Alex Kotlowitz
“Enrique’s Journey is the odyssey of our time and place. The story of a boy’s brave and harrowing search for the mother who loved him but left is the most telling, moving, and unsparing account I have ever read about those who struggle and sacrifice to give their families better lives, and the loneliness and regret that no success can ever fully put to rest. It is a great American—I emphasize that—story, beautifully reported.”—Scott Simon
“Gripping, heroic and important, Enrique's Journey captures the heart. Most Americans or their forebears came to the United States from other countries. They experienced difficult journeys and wrenching family separations-all in the hope of finding a better life in this new land. Enrique's story is our story, beautifully told.”—Edward James Olmos