Sonia Nazario's "Enrique's Journey," the nonfiction chronicle of a Honduran teenager's dogged effort to reunite with his mother in the U.S., is the choice for the 2012 One Book, One Denver reading project.
The book is based on the 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning series Nazario wrote for the Los Angeles Times. The story begins in Honduras when Enrique is 5 years old. His impoverished mother, Lourdes, desperate to feed her children more than one meal a day, decides to find work in the U.S. so she can send money for her children's food and education.
Multiple story lines follow Lourdes, Enrique, Enrique's girlfriend, immigrant care workers and other immigrants and the perils they face. The dangers include gangs, corrupt police and the very device they depend upon for the journey north — the trains with nicknames including "The Train of Death" and "The Train That Devours," both references to the limbs and lives lost by would-be immigrants gambling on rooftop transportation.
"Half of the undocumented immigrants are women and children," Nazario said Tuesday morning in a media conference, where she noted that Latinos compose 20 percent of Colorado's population.
"My hope is that ('Enrique's Journey') will help you understand your new neighbors," she said.
Slight, with chin-length hair and rectangular black-framed glasses, Nazario, who lives in Los Angeles, made a point of mentioning her connection to Colorado — not as a former student of Colorado State University, as the One Book One Denver site erroneously reported, but by marriage to a native of Arvada. (The committee that chooses the titles for One Book One Denver repeatedly has been chided for ignoring Colorado authors.)
The other two contenders for this year's One Book, One Denver were John Dunning's historical novel "Denver," and Timothy Egan's Dust Bowl saga , "The Worst Hard Time." (Egan's "The Big Burn," about the disastrous 1910 Western wildfires, was Summit County's 2012 choice for its version of the Denver book club.) The winning book was chosen by public vote from three finalists. "Enrique's Journey" received approximately 60 percent of the nearly 1,000 public votes.
The Denver Public Library has stocked 1,000 copies of "Enrique's Journey," including 50 Spanish translations and downloadable free e-books. McDonald's, the book club's sponsor, is promoting "Enrique's Journey" at its Denver restaurants, and has placed some copies with gift certificates at two downtown stores.
"Enrique's Journey" joins Garth Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain," Kathryn Stockett's "The Help," Leif Enger's "Peace Like a River," Sandra Cisneros' "Caramelo," John Nichols' "The Milagro Beanfield War," Nick Arvin's "Articles of War", Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man," and Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" as top picks in the city book club.
Claire Martin: 303-954-1477, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/byclairemartin
Sonia Nazario's story of a Honduran teenager's danger-fraught journey to reunite with his mother in the United States is the 2012 choice for "One Book, One Denver."