The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border

Francisco Cantu

“Death is a price that is paid, a toll collected by the desert.”

“I’ll eat grass, I’ll eat bushes, I’ll eat cactus, I’ll drink filthy cattle water, I’ll drink nothing at all. I’ll run and hide from la migra, I’ll pay the mafias whatever I have to. They can take my money, they can rob my family, they can lock me away, but I will keep coming back. I will keep crossing, again and again, until I make it, until I am together again with my family. No, no me quedo aquí. Voy a seguir intentando pasar.”


Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.16.05 PM.pngI have spent well over 10 years in Texas, BUT once you head west away from the cities and suburbs, it is a different Texas. You will find a flat rural desert with canyons, ranches, and beautiful sunsets. Everyone has a connection to the land and the WiFi/cell service is weak. If you find yourself in the rural patches along the Texas border, I HIGHLY recommend you read The Line Becomes a River.

Francisco joins the border patrol more or less against his mother’s wishes. He doesn’t make a lifelong career out of it. Instead, Francisco uses the border patrol as a stepping stone to fully understanding himself. With myth-like-oral-storytelling-style you find yourself swimming amongst facts and Francisco’s emotions as he negatives the grey morality within himself. He swirls together his memories with his recollection of his time in the border patrol so seamlessly you won’t notice the lack of chapters.  If you enjoy memoirs, facts, and first-hand accounts of border life/activity this is the book for you. If you are moving to a border town, read this! If you are interested in the life and career of an agent, look no further than The Line Becomes a River.

Francisco is an interesting person. I knew from the first few pages that his story wasn’t going to be one of an agent’s glorious career. No, he was going to make me think. You will ponder life, death, morality, laws, border life, and immigration. You will develop relationships with agents and grow to enjoy their company. Once you have experienced the highs and the lows of agent life, Francisco will pull at your heartstrings and leave your hands tied, helpless and sorrowful as he was. From agent to barista, Francisco will keep you turning pages and leave you googling for closure- you may never be satisfied.

I gave The Line Becomes a River 5/5 stars on Goodreads. I may be the only book I have given 5 stars too. I have read a few books on similar topics, but none weaved a tale that read as if I was listening to a campfire tale. If you haven’t read this book and don’t plan too, please reconsider!

Have you heard of The Line Becomes a River? Are you familiar with the border patrol? Do you plan to read The Line Becomes a River? Have you lived on a border before?

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