Regional focus: Guatemala
Author: Alexandra Diaz
Genre: juvenile fiction
Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous and life-changing journey from his home in Guatemala to live with his older brother in the United States. When Jaime’s cousin Miguel is murdered in gang violence, his family fears that he will be next. There’s only one choice: accompanied by his cousin Angela, Jaime must flee his home to live with his older brother in New Mexico. Inspired by true events, The Only Road is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life.
What I love:
- An honest story, made to be “heard” by a younger audience.
- Moments of kindness, generosity and friendship are found even in extreme hardship.
- The reader quickly connects and identifies with many of the characters in the story.
Themes: immigration, courage, survival, hardship
- What do Jaime and Angela take with them in their backpacks? If you had to leave your home with nothing but a backpack, what would you bring with you?
- Describe the role that art plays in Jaime’s life. How does art help him survive the journey to United States? Do you have something in your life that is similar to Jaime’s love of art?
- On Jaime and Angela’s journey, they meet many people who are trying to immigrate to the United States. What are some of the reasons that people have for leaving their homes and risking the dangerous journey across the border?
- Jaime and Angela meet several people who help them along their journey. Describe the individuals who help them. What do you think motivates each of their helpers?
- Using the novel as a guide, create a map of Jaime and Angela’s journey.
- On Jaime and Angela’s journey they meet people from other Latin American countries, like El Salvador and Mexico. The parents of author Alexandra Diaz immigrated from Cuba. Choose a Latin American country to research and prepare a report about the culture, geography, government, and history of the country you chose.
- Jaime’s love and talent for art is a source of solace and survival. He shares a last name with the famous Latin American artist, Diego Rivera. Research the art of Rivera and/or his wife Frida Kahlo. What are your favorite things about their art? Try to create your own art in the style of either artist.