70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 1999
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a book that is suitable for all ages. Jimenez manages to describe his childhood in a manner that captivates the reader. I could not put the book down once I began reading. Do not think that just because these events happened long ago,that migrant families do not experience some of the same horrors today, for they do. I teach ESL to adult migrant workers and after reading this book I have an even greater respect for these hard working individuals. The farms and ranches of California could not exist as they do today without migrants who do the back breaking work in the fields. Most evenings at class my students (both men and women) come in directly from the fields, their eyes bloodshot, their hands rough and calloused, their backs bowed over. But they come eager to learn English so they can get a better job, or so they can help their children have a better education. An admirable people and Jimenez's book provides insight into their difficult working and living conditions.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 1999
I bought The Circuit because I am working with the children of Mexican migrant families this summer. As I read, I imagined the kids in my class experiencing the difficulties described by Jimenez, especially the poor living conditions. Yet the stories are not written as complaints. The hopeful spirit of the struggling family members really comes through, and moved me to tears more than once. Reading The Circuit has helped me to better understand and appreciate my young migrant friends. I'm passing my copy around so that my friends and family can see why I care about those kids so much!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 1997
The short stories in this collection bear
compelling witness to the strength and
vitality of the human spirit under the most
inhumane circumstances. This inspiring
tribute to the humanity of poor migrant
workers tells the right story at the right
time in this country, when immigrants,
documented or not, are shamelessly
scapegoated by politicians of every stripe.
The powerful impact of these deceptively
simple stories may be credited to their
autobiographical character, the purity of
the prose, and the strength of the images.
In reading this book you will experience the
untapped wealth of humanity that works our
fields, sews our clothes, waits our tables.
You will also be completely engaged by twelve
For me, Dr. Jimenez' "Christmas Gift" tops
O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi" for the best
Christmas story ever -- and it's the perfect
size for a stocking stuffer!
Steve Privett,S.J.[SPrivett@mailer.scu.edu] Santa Clara, California
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2006
This book is a great place to start if you are interested in learning about the life of someone less priviledged than yourself. Perhaps it will help you appreciate the simple pleasures in life and everything that you've got. When you reach the end of the book, you'll be glad Jimenez wrote a sequel (Breaking Through).
Written in a language that is accessible to everyone from grade school to adulthood, Jimenez doesn't exaggerate details or go into a lot of long desriptions. It's simply his memories of his childhood in a migrant family. As all memories go, the book does not flow smoothly from chapter to chapter, but rather gives you snapshots of his life, so take it for what it is and don't worry about the chronology.
As a teacher, this book really helped me appreciate the lives and struggles of many of my students (who lead lives similar to Jimenez in his childhood).
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2003
A collection of interrelated stories based on the author's experience as an illegal immigrant from Mexico in the late 1940s, working with his family as a migrant laborer. Exposes hardships without being didactic. Ambiguous. Makes me feel what it would be like to be poor in a country where I didn't speak the language. A nice companion to books like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry or Out of the Dust. Ages 10+
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2005
The Circuit, one of my favorite books, is written by Francisco Jimenez. The Circuit is about a family that lived in El Rancho Blanco, Guadalajara. Francisco and his family moved to the United States crossing the border illegally. When they get to the United States in California they look for work and they work in the fields picking cotton. Francisco's family is always hiding from the border patrol which they call it "la migra." As they go on they move to different places. The reason I read this story is because it held my interest , because I wondered how it would be crossing the border illegally. Also, because some of the story reminds me about when I got here from Mexico. I really recommend this book. It's exciting and it taught me to eat all my food and not throw it away because Francisco's family did't have anything to eat sometimes. I would give this book a ten, and I really loved it a lot and I think you should try it.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2003
Francisco Jimenez doesn't preach, he doesn't tell, he doesn't demand that you change your views about the migrant population in the US; he does tell a story of a migrant family with more tenderness than I have read anywhere. He doesn't rely on dramatic anecdotes to relay his point, but rather allows the realistic simplicity of the stories to speak for themselves. Doing so makes the stories all the more meaninful, as the reader never feels like he is being told exagerated accounts of a migrant child's life.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 1999
A fast read, but also a must-read for all ... especially teachers in the Southwestern part of the U.S. where we encounter so many migrant families. It really opens your eyes and helps you see a little piece of what people go through.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 1998
Francisco Jimenez brilliantly captures the voice of the young Panchito and the struggles and triumphs of his migrant family. The issue of Mexican immigration has become become hotly bebated, causing us to sometimes lose sight of the human vioce of those about which we so passionately talk. Jimenez's stories transform our understanding of Mexican sojourners, moving us from an abstract understanding of Mexican immigrantion to a more humane frame of mind. In essence, these twelve short-stories enable us to bear witness so that we may make a compassionate connection with those people who are represented by Jimenez's stories. What is more, the style with which Jimenez writes makes this book enjoyable for all ages. The Circuit should propel Jimenez into an arena with the great Chicano authors of our time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
"Not since Tomás Rivera's . . . .and the earth did not part has a book expressed so well the experiences of the migrant campesinos as Francisco Jimenez has done in The Circuit. Its contents are representative of the best in the field of Chicano short story." ~Luis Leal
The Circuit is a series of independent but intertwined short stories that brings the reader into the life of a young Francisco Jiménez, or Panchito as he was known as a child. Each autobiographical chapter can stand on its own, but when read in its entirety, it tells the story of Jimenez' childhood growing up in a family of migrant farm workers. While this may be a slightly different style of novel than many students are used to, it's actually quite reader friendly. Jiménez's writing style is simple and clear--but not simplistic. He manages to capture the tone of a young boy, engaging both young and old readers alike. He expresses the emotions of Panchito in a way that a child could understand and relate to, but that also deeply move the adult reader.
Rudolfo Anaya describes The Circuit in the following manner: "This is truly a telling of the American Dream, a family who works hard under the worst of circumstances, and whose work is never recognized. . . .The family's odyssey is heartrending, but it is the truth, and it's skillfully told by someone who's been there." Too often our classroom discussions of the American Dream gloss over or ignore stories like that of the Jiménez family. At the beginning of the book, Jiménez writes, ". . .Papá's eyes sparkled whenever he talked about it with Mama and his friends. `Once we cross la frontera, we'll make a good living in California,' he would say, standing up straight and sticking out his chest" (p. 1). Unfortunately, our discussions of the possibilities of the American Dream, or even more recent conversations around immigration, stop there. They don't consider the rest of the story--what it was actually like for the Jiménez family, moving constantly, living in tents or run down shacks, barely making enough money to survive. It's easy to see why we might ignore this part of the story--it flies in the face of what we would like to believe is possible with hard work and commitment, it discredits our American Dream. Yet, if we want to present the truth to our students, we have to expose them to stories like that of Francisco Jiménez. Not only because it may teach them a part of our country's history they're not familiar with, but it may also legitimize a part of history that some of our students are all too familiar with because it represents their own family's story. Pat Mora explains it best: "May Francisco Jiménez's stories trouble our individual and collective conscience, insisting that we confront the gap between historical rhetoric and the lives of migrant children in this land."
Jiménez's novel is an engaging and valuable one for adults and children alike. Published in 1997, teachers have been using it in classrooms with great success for over a decade now. As an awarding winning book that is readily available in English and Spanish, it's an incredible classroom resource. There are numerous free teacher's guides and supplementary materials available online to aid teachers in implementing The Circuit in elementary, middle and high school classrooms (I highlight a number of them at the beginning of our own Educator's Guide which can be found at: [...]
The Circuit is the first of three novels that tells the story of Jiménez's journey all the way through high school and college. I should warn you though, The Circuit ends on a cliffhanger, so you may want to have the second book ready and waiting when you reach the end--both for you and your students. Be sure to check out the other two books in the series: Breaking Through, and Reaching Out.