Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli – review


These devastating essays document the terrifying experiences of unaccompanied Mexican children crossing the US border

In 2012, the Mexican writer Luiselli caused a sensation with her haunting debut novel, Faces in the Crowd, in which her unhappy protagonist craved “narrative order.” In this sobering essay, based on Luiselli’s experience as an interpreter for undocumented Mexican children crossing into the US, the phrase “narrative order” reappears, this time to describe what’s lacking in their chaotic stories. Trauma, exhaustion, youth and mistrust make it difficult to make sense of the children’s experiences as she tries to help them fill out the intake questionnaires and piece together a defence against deportation.

Most have lost friends and relatives; 80% of girls and women have been raped (US civilian vigilantes and private ranch owners are known to “go out to hunt” undocumented migrants). In this compelling, devastating book, Luiselli documents the huge injustices done to the children by both the American and Mexican governments, and by the public who treat them as “illegal aliens”, rather than as what they truly are: refugees of war.

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