Review: The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story

by Aaron Bobrow-Strain (FSG, 2019)

This true, heartbreaking account engages with excellent storytelling to explore the unique life experience of a young woman who struggles to build a safe life for herself and her son. Aida Hernandez, born in Mexico in 1987, comes of age between worlds, criss-crossing the Arizona/Mexico border because of school, work, and family ties. Characters are real people, although the author has disguised some names (including Aida's) for many reasons. Author Bobrow-Strain is a professor of politics at Whitman College who lived and worked along the Arizona/Mexico border for four years. Aida collaborated with Mr. Bobrow-Strain while he was writing the book. Aida's personal story is braided with background details about Mexican history and the legacy of immigration economics and enforcement along the Mexican/American border. The book also describes complexities of immigration law in order to illuminate the context of Aida’s particular experience seeking legal permanent residency in the United States. As of July, 2019, thousands of people still wait in detention for their asylum or deportation cases to be processed. The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez is a vital, excellent choice for book groups who want a substantial, in-depth look at one particular family existing in the vortex of contemporary Mexican/American border politics.

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Karen Lewis