From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–In this touching memoir, the author relates how he and his family illegally immigrated to the United States and were later returned to Mexico. Not giving up, he and his older brother came back again, followed by their family; several years later they were granted legal residence. Through much sacrifice from all members of the family, Jiménez attended university, where he met people who encouraged him to go beyond an undergraduate degree. Despite facing financial, health, and other issues, the author shows what he was able to accomplish with the unity and undivided love of his family. Photographs add warmth to the book by putting faces to the characters for whom readers develop deep appreciation. A testament to a strong faith in God and in JiménezâÇÖs talent, written in a relaxed manner, this is a most uplifting read.–Narda McCarthy, Para Los Niños Consultant, Weston, FL
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2009 Pura Belpre Honor
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2009
"This sequel to The Circuit (1997) and Breaking Through (2001), which covered Mexican-born Jimenez's childhood, takes Francisco through his college years at the University of Santa Clara. After long years working in California fields and living in labor camps, Francisco is the first in his family to attend college, and this volume is a tribute to all first-generation college students and the many people who made a difference in Francisco's own life. As he says to his family at graduation, "We all did it." It's a bittersweet story, though, as Francisco frequently feels guilty at the sacrifices made on his behalf, and even as he heads to Columbia University for graduate studies on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he yearns for stability in his life and a place to call home. While the first two volumes felt as though they were collections of autobiographical short stories, this is a more linear and straightforward autobiographical novel, simply and eloquently told. An inspiring account of a remarkable journey." (July 15th, 2008) (Kirkus Reviews
*"So now you think you're better than us because you are going to college!" Papa's raging depression intensifies young Jimenez's personal guilt and conflict in the 1960s. He is the first in his Mexican American migrant family to attend college in California. While at home, the family struggles with backbreaking work and lives without indoor plumbing; in college, Jimenez finds friends and mentors in class and at church, discovers the great literature in his native Spanish language, and joins Cesar Chavez in the drive to unionize farm workers. Like his landmark books The Circuit (1997) and Breaking Through (2001), this sequel tells his personal story in clear, simple, self-contained chapters that join together in a stirring narrative. As he works many jobs to send something home, he is haunted by memories of his childhood spent laboring in the fields and cleaning offices, and in college, he tells no one that he was born in Mexico and is not an American citizen. Rooted in the past, Jimenez's story is also about the continuing struggle to make it in Ameica, not only for immigrant kids but also for those in poor families who struggle to break free. Never melodramatic or self-important, the spare episodes will draw readers with the quiet daily detail of work, anger, sorrow, and hope." (Booklist, starred review -Hazel Rochman