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Good Reads for Adults from the Naperville Public Library

Talk with Debra about interesting non-fiction titles.

Talk with Debra about interesting non-fiction titles.

The Naperville Reads 2012 Adult Author, Luis Alberto Urrea will give a free public presentation about his titles Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Wentz Concert Hall. He writes both fiction and non-fiction books; here is a review of one of his best known non-fiction titles.

The Devil’s Highway – A True Story
By Luis Alberto Urrea (Non-fiction)
On the evening of Sat, May 19, 2001, 26 Mexican men and boys set out on foot from northern Mexico into the southern Arizona desert to walk into the United States across a dangerous and remote border area called “The Devil’s Highway”. Only 11 of them reached safety after a harrowing five-day ordeal of exposure to unrelenting heat and scorching sun which resulted in the deaths of the largest number of Mexican immigrants in a single border-crossing attempt in the previous 20 years.

This well-researched and heart-rending true story tells of destitute Mexicans leaving their homes in hopes of earning enough money in America to better the lives of their families left behind in Mexico. Lured by the false assurances of wealthy smugglers who promise safe passage to secure jobs in the USA, the “walkers”, as they are called, pay exorbitant fees, often loaned to them by the smugglers themselves. The walkers are not prepared for the dangers of the desert heat and sun, and often do not wear the proper clothes, do not carry enough food and water, and are too far from home to return once they begin their journey. The walkers are left at the mercy of hired “coyotes”, who are paid to lead the groups safely through the desert. In this incident, the coyotes abandoned the walkers after five days when the coyotes realized they had misled the walkers in the unfamiliar terrain of the searing desert.

The author relates this nightmare in gripping detail, including the sad irony that the Mexican government spent $68,000 to fly the bodies of the dead walkers back to their homes in southern Mexico. If that $68,000 could have been spent to create jobs in the villages where the men lived, they would never have needed to leave to find work. This book was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction.
Reading Level: High school and above Debra Gillespie

This title and other books by Luis Alberto Urrea are available at the Naperville Public Library. Check out our website,, or visit one of our three buildings, Nichols Library, Naper Boulevard or 95th Street Library.

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