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Summary: Grande puts a human face on the epic story about those who make it across the border into America, those who never make it across, and those who are left behind.Edition/Copyright: 07
From Across a Hundred Mountains adelina ''That's your father's grave,'' the old man repeated, in a voice that was barely audible. He'd been silent most of the crossing. When he had to speak at all, he did so softly, as if this place was as holy as church. The U.S. border. Adelina looked at the large pile of rocks he was pointing to. The old man had to be mistaken. Her father wasn't under there. He couldn't be. She wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. Then she used her hand as a shield to cover her eyes from the glare of the sun. She took a few steps forward until she was in the shadow of a boulder towering above them and the pile of rocks. Could her father really be buried there? She gulped. Her mouth was dry, and swallowing made her throat ache, as if she were swallowing a prickly pear, spines and all. She felt tears burning her eyes and quickly rubbed them dry. ''It's not too late to turn around and go back,'' the old man said. ''Maybe it would be best.'' Adelina took a deep breath, then turned to look at the sea of shrub and cactus stretching out around her. The terrain seemed to never end. It had taken almost all day to get here. They hadn't been caught by the immigration patrol this time. She looked back at the old man. He must have been a good coyote back in the day when he was young and agile. Even now, with sixty years on his back, a bad eye, and a lame knee, he'd managed to get her past the ever-watching eyes of la migra on their second attempt. ''We can turn around now,'' the old man said again. ''You've seen his grave, let that be enough.'' Adelina shook her head and began to walk down to the pile. ''I didn't come to see a grave,'' she said as she took off her backpack. ''I came to find my father, and I will take him with me, even if I have to carry his bones on my back.'' The old man looked at her with surprise. Adelina didn't look at his good brown eye. Instead, she looked at his left eye, the one with the blue film over it. She had discovered that this was the only way she could make the old man look away. The old man looked back at the rocks and said nothing. Yet Adelina knew what he was thinking. She had lied to him. She had not told him she was planning to dig up the body and, if it really was her father, take him back with her. He would not have brought her here had she told him this. She bent down and began to remove the rocks one by one. So many rocks on top of him. So much weight to support. Maybe once the rocks were gone, maybe once he was free, she, too, would be free. ''It may not even be him,'' the old man said as he grabbed her wrist to stop her from removing any more rocks. ''I have to know,'' Adelina said. ''For nineteen years I have not known what happened to my father. You have no idea what it's like to live like that -- not to know. Hoy sabre la verdad.'' She yanked her arm and continued removing the rocks. The old man walked away from her. She tried to hurry. One by one the rocks were lifted. Some rocks rolled down and hit her knees. Her fingers began to hurt from being scraped. There was still a possibility the old man was right. Maybe it wasn't her father. But which would be worse, that it was her father or that it wasn't? Nineteen years not knowing. Too many years thinking he had abandoned them. ''Look!'' the old man said. Adelina turned around and saw a cloud of dust rising in the distance. ''La migra,'' the old man said. ''We must hide.'' Adelina turned back to the rocks and in desperation began throwing them against the boulder. The sound echoed against the settled dust. She had to know who was buried there. She had to see for herself if it really was her father. ''What are you doing? Hide!'' The old man quickly made his way to a crevice in the boulder. But Adelina kept throwing off the rocks a
''Reyna Grande knows the heartbreaking worlds on either side of the border, where men are desperate, women are prey, and children want what they always want: the presence of love.''-- Susan Straight, author of ''Highwire Moon''
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