THE BORDER, by Steve Schafer, Sourcebooks Fire, Sept. 5, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
There’s been much talk about the building of a wall to keep “the bad hombres” from Mexico out of the United States. The Border, by Steve Schafer, makes you question just who those bad hombres are.
It’s a time for celebration — a quinceañera for Pato’s best friend’s sister. There’s laughter, music and wonderful food. Pato, Arbo, Marcos and Gladys slip away from the lights for a smoke and the celebration slips away, too.
In seconds, the sounds of gunfire have the teens scrambling for cover. Fearful for their family, the four returns to the house only to find carnage. No one has been left alive. No one, that is, except the gunmen. The teens have been seen, and they have no choice but to run.
But where do you run to when the narcos are everywhere? When their pictures are plastered on the front of every newspaper? When the narcos are offering a reward so big no one could turn it down?
Pato and his friends can’t stay in Mexico. That much is clear. To stay means certain death, but crossing the border can be just as deadly.
The Border is one of the most gripping YA novels I’ve read this year. Even if I had wanted to put it down, I couldn’t have. It’s that good.
The opening chapters are fraught with terror. Author Steve Schafer does an excellent job setting the scene. It plays out cinematically, making you feel as if you are watching the events unfold right in front of your eyes. This same cinematic, almost visceral feel, continues throughout the novel, ending with the final pages.
The Border was inspired in part from an experience Schafer’s friend went through. One of the friend’s family members was kidnapped. Calls for a ransom were made but then suddenly stopped. The family member was never heard from again. Schafer began to wonder what he would do if something like that happened to his own family. That question sparked the idea for The Border.
Many readers will come away from The Border asking a similar question, “what would I do?” As is often the case, there’s no black-or-white answer.
The Border is a timely novel that punches you in the gut. It’s well worth your time.
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