Telling an American Immigration Story That's Both Personal and Political - Pacific Standard

Telling an American Immigration Story That's Both Personal and Political

Journalist Lauren Markham's new book tells the story of twin teenage brothers who migrate from gang-ridden El Salvador to Oakland, California.
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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life.

The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life.

The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life
Lauren Markham
Crown Publishing

In The Far Away Brothers, journalist Lauren Markham tells the story of twin teenage brothers who migrate from gang-ridden El Salvador to Oakland, California. Markham recreates each step of the story in rich detail: the fraught decision to leave, the harrowing journey, the bureaucratic hoops. As the teens negotiate the dramas of American high school, they also struggle with the awareness that each choice they make creates ripples that might be felt far away, in the country they once called home. In short interludes between chapters, Markham zooms out from the twins' specific story to detail how our immigration infrastructure works (and fails to work) for thousands of other minors. These passages make the central story more powerful, as Markham evokes the difficulty of each decision the twins face, as well as dozens of outcomes that the haphazard system might have produced.

A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.

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