I’ve come to count on Will Hobbs as the Gary Paulsen of YA. There is a great scene in Wild Man Island (terrible title, btw) where Andy is paralyzed by eating a poisonous shellfish and he lies on the ground feeling the rain falling in his open eyes, hoping the birds won’t believe him dead and start tearing him to pieces. Just read that page out loud to stop the talking in a room of eighty seventh graders. Yes, it can be done.
With his new book, Crossing the Wire, Will Hobbs has taken on an adventure story that happens dozens, hundreds of times every day in this country. Victor, in a act of desperation to save his family, attempts to cross over into the United States from Mexico. There is drama, danger, and drug-dealing. It’s gritty and real. And it happens all the time.
Will Hobbs is careful with his treatment of the Border Patrol as people doing their jobs. They appear firm and strong, but not mean or vengeful. He also tells more about the situations that have led up to the flood of immigrants falling corn prices due to our subsidized corn, increased vigilance after 9/11, less chance to grow crops in Mexico due to deforestization in a conversational way, that may have more meaning and relevance for adults than kids. In fact, maybe more adults should read this book and soon.
With the changes along the border and the changing politics of the issue of illegal immigration, more people are trying to cross the border in more dangerous ways leading to more deaths. Will Hobbs makes us look at this issue seriously, while still presenting an adventure book in its own right.