105 Ways to Give a Book

Teen Read Week: One For The Boys

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.

Crossing the WireWith 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.


Camille said...

I heard Will Hobbs talk about this book at TLA this past spring. He did tons of research including interviews with border patrol agents and visits to the border and crossing areas in the middle of nowhere. He had great sympathy for the border patrol and the challenges they face. He empathized with his character too and his search for a better life. It was a very interesting talk.

At A Hen's Pace said...


I keep trying to get my 15-year-old son-with-Asperger's to try Will Hobbs and Gary Paulsen, but he jumped right from Tin Tin and Star Wars to Fly Boys, Band of Brothers, and The Last Jihad. Maybe this one will have the military-like element that he likes.

Thanks for the review!

Kristian said...

I liekd the thoughts in your review... recently I had to read the book for my 9th grade english class, and although I found it very easy reading, the story line was interesting and brought forward points I had never thought about before (although I do suppport the loosening of immigrations controls). I had to write an essay about the book and immigration for the class, which I posted on my blog. Click here and tell me what you think, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.