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Book Club Kits: La Linea

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Ann Jaramillo

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Book Summary

Miguel has dreamed of joining his parents in California since the day they left him behind in Mexico six years, eleven months, and twelve days ago. On the morning of his fifteenth birthday, Miguel’s wait is over.

Or so he thinks. The trip north to the border—la línea—is fraught with dangers. Thieves. Border guards. And a grueling, two-day trek across the desert. It would be hard enough to survive alone. But it’s almost impossible with his tagalong sister in tow.

Their money gone and their hopes nearly dashed, Miguel and his sister have no choice but to hop the infamous mata gente as it races toward the border. As they cling to the roof of the speeding train, they hold onto each other, and to their dreams. But they quickly learn that you can’t always count on dreams—even the ones that come true.

Discussion Questions

  • Why didn’t Miguel and Elena’s parents take the kids with them when they first moved to California?

  • Why does Miguel want to come to the United States? Why has it taken his parents so long to send for him? Do you think it’s fair that Elena must wait longer before making the trip?

  • Describe Miguel’s life in Mexico. Do you think Miguel is right when he says that he will have to leave San Jacinto to have any opportunity for a better life? Why or why not?

  • What debt does Don Clemente owe Miguel’s father? Why wouldn’t Miguel’s father use that debt to get both Miguel and Elena sent to California sooner?

  • What does Miguel pack to bring with him to California? Why does he choose the items he packs? What would you take with you if you were leaving your home forever?

  • Has the journey North become more dangerous since Miguel’s parents made it? Why?

  • What did you think of Javier? Was he honest? Why did they decide to trust him? Why did he help Elena and Miguel?

  • How would Miguel’s journey have been different if he’d never met Javier?

  • Why did Miguel decide to take Elena with him instead of sending her back to San Jacinto?

  • How would Miguel’s journey have been different if he’d sent Elena home? How was Elena helpful during the journey?

  • Why did Javier suggest that Elena disguise herself as a boy?

  • What do you think happened to Javier?

  • Was it worth all the risks that Elena and Miguel took to immigrate to the USA? Would you have the courage to undertake such a journey?

  • Were you surprised to learn that Elena returned to Mexico once she finished her education? Why do you think she chose to go home?

  • Do you know anyone who immigrated to the USA? How were their experiences similar to or different from Elena and Miguel’s journey?

  • What do you think is the biggest challenge facing a new immigrant?

  • Before reading this book, what was your opinion on illegal immigration? Did Elena and Miguel’s story change the way that you think about immigrants? Why or why not?