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Crossing the wire


1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, ©2006.
Physical Description:
216 pages : map ; 22 cm
Fifteen-year-old Victor Flores journeys north in a desperate attempt to cross the Arizona border and find work in the United States to support his family in central Mexico.
Reading Level:
Grades 5 up.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning MG 4.3 8.

Accelerated Reader 4.3.
Geographic Term:


Call Number

On Order



In this riveting, action-packed novel from award-winning author Will Hobbs, a teenage boy hoping to help his loved ones must fight for his life as he makes the dangerous journey across the Mexican border into the United States.

When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to "cross the wire" from Mexico into America so he can find work and help ease the finances at home.

But with no coyote money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor struggles to survive as he jumps trains, stows away on trucks, and hikes grueling miles through the Arizona desert.

Victor's passage is fraught with freezing cold, scorching heat, hunger, and dead ends. It's a gauntlet run by many attempting to cross the border, but few make it. Through Victor's desperate perseverance, Will Hobbs brings to life a story that is true for many, polarizing for some, but life-changing for all who read it.

Acclaim for Crossing the Wire includes the following: New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, Junior Library Guild Selection, Americas Awards Commended Title, Heartland Award, Southwest Book Award, and Notable Books for Global Society.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Ever since his family moved to the tiny village of Los crboles, Victor has been best friends with Rico. When Rico tells him that he has enough money to pay for "a coyote" to help him cross into El Norte, Victor is unable to decide if he, too, should go along and look for work or try to feed his family with the pitiful annual corn harvest. The decision is made for him the next day when he discovers that the corn prices have bottomed out and that there is no point in even planting this year. Readers suffer with the 15-year-old as he makes his painful decision to leave his mother and younger siblings and attempts the dangerous border crossing, jumping trains, fleeing thieves and border officials, and suffering from thirst and hunger. His desperation and fear are completely believable as he faces near-death situations and must decide whom to trust. The author deftly weaves information concerning the local geography and customs into the plot. The story is well paced, sustaining readers' attention throughout. Pair this novel with Ann Jaramillo's La L'nea (Roaring Brook, 2006) for another fictional view of young people crossing the border between the U.S. and Mexico.-Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Fifteen-year-old Mexican Victor Flores is the man of his family. His father died in a construction accident while working illegally in South Carolina. Victor has been making ends meet by growing corn, but governmental subsidies paid to American farmers have cut his profits to near nothing. He realizes that the only way his family will have the money they need to survive is for him to make the risky border crossing himself. He doesn't have the $1,500 to pay a "coyote" to shepherd him across, so he's on his own. Victor runs into trouble before he even gets to the border. He makes the crossing once with a "lone wolf" named Miguel and is caught and deported. He meets up with his friend Rico, who has had problems of his own getting to El Norte. Rico tricks Victor into crossing with drug smugglers. Events turn out well enough for Victor, but he's surrounded by violence and death on his journey. Hobbs has created a page-turning adventure set squarely in the real world. He offers no easy answers and readers who accompany Victor might be enlightened to some harsh political realities. (Fiction. 10-16) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. As in Ann Jaramillo's La Linea (2006) , Hobbs' latest puts a human face on the controversial issue of illegal immigration. No longer able to grow corn profitably in his Mexican village, 15-year-old Victor, who has supported his family since his father's death, resolves to go to El Norte: It's time for me to do what men from our village have to do. Lacking the money to secure a guide, he ventures to a border town to wait his chance in the whirlpool of recent deportees, newcomers, and grizzled mojados (wetbacks ). Successive attempts find him trekking through mountains and desert, fleeing la migra, and unwittingly becoming entangled with ruthless drug traffickers. Hobbs' effort to show a broad view of the border-crossing experience, often by incorporating the hard-luck tales of Victor's acquaintances, results in a story arc that occasionally feels artificial. But the questions raised here are provocative and worthwhile (Are Americans willing to pick the fruits and the vegetables to fill their grocery stores? ), and the propulsive adventure-and-survival elements will keep Hobbs' core audience hooked. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2006 Booklist