ARC Review: The Border by Steve Schafer


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer
Publisher: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 360 Pages
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017

Summary: One moment changed their lives forever. A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them. Crack. Crack. Crack. Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them. Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

I received an advanced copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange, and I'm honestly so glad that I did. I didn't expect to be so engrossed in this book, but it seriously captivated me from the first word to the last, and I was even disappointed when it was over because I didn't want to end. In my opinion, this was a really, really good book.

As the summary explains, Pato's friends and family happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they're the victims of an attack by a drug cartel. (Why did they attack that family party, you ask? You'll just have to read the book to find out.) Only Pato and three of his other friends manage to survive, but then the situation is so dire that they know they can't stay in Mexico anymore -- which means that they have to attempt to cross the border into the U.S. There are several problems with that, though -- they're broke, they're kids, and they have absolutely no idea what they're doing. So this book chronicles their journey across the desert as they struggle to stay alive and reach freedom, battling the many dangerous (and sometimes deadly) obstacles that come their way.

This book really opened my eyes to a lot of things, which I thought was incredibly important and one of the best things about it. Not only did it show me firsthand experience through the eyes of Pato about the struggles and dangers that people in Mexico face every single day in their drug wars, but it also showed how dangerous and deadly crossing the U.S. border really is. I feel like there are a lot of people that think people from Mexico just hop through a hole in a fence and waltz around in America, immediately getting jobs and good lives and "taking away from hardworking Americans." (For the record, I completely disagree with this line of thought.) But what this book really demonstrates is how much hard work, heartbreak, and sacrifice goes into gaining just a small slice of freedom that American citizens are blessed with as their birthright and never have to work for at all. And once these immigrants get to the United States...things aren't pretty, or simple, and people are just doing what they have to do to survive, just like anybody else.

A character that I really liked in this book was Gladys. Not only was she adorable and funny and creative, but she was such a good soul and kept the group together and grounded through all of the hardships they faced. Even when times were grim and some pretty terrible things were happening. Gladys and her good heart kept everything at least semi-positive and she refused to give up even when I definitely would have, and when her companions definitely wanted to. She was a good soul throughout the entire book, and she was funny and sweet and artistic and I can definitely see why Pato liked her as much as he did. 

(Minor spoilers ahead so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want this book spoiled for you!) The only thing about this book that I wasn't crazy about was the ending, in the sense that I was left with so many questions that I didn't even remotely have answers to. Where did Marco go? Did they end up being captured? What happened when they got to Denver? And to Sr. Ortiz? And do they ever contact his children? What about Tito? There was just so much that I didn't know that I wish I did, and I was left with sooo many questions. But other than that, I really don't have any other complaints about the book. That's really it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Border. While the premise sounded interesting, I didn't expect to be sucked in so quickly, but before I knew it, I was unable to put the book down. Not only was the story itself so gripping, but Steve Schafer is such an excellent writer that his words leaving you wanting more and more. If this book isn't on your TBR yet, I definitely recommend adding it -- because even if you read the summary and think the book isn't your cup of tea, it's worth a shot, because if you're like me, you'll be delightfully surprised, and gasping with every turn of the page.

Seriously guys. So many plot twists.

I'm so glad that I got the chance to review The Border, and if you get the chance, I definitely recommend you do it too! I'm looking forward to reading more from Steve Schafer in the future after this book, that's for sure.

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