2 Reviews: The Tortilla Curtain and The Child Who

Both of these books sure dealt with some heavy and controversial topics! Not the happiest of subject matters (illegal immigration and kids killing kids) but both were eye-opening to say the very least!

The Tortilla Curtain tackles the controversial subject of illegal immigration. It is the story of 2 couples sharing the same space in California, not far from the US-Mexico border. Delany and Kyra are a typical American couple “living the American Dream” and Candido and America are an illegal Mexican couple who would like to share just a fraction of that dream.

Their lives intersect on the day that Delany hits Candido with his car. Rather than doing the obvious and calling an ambulance for the injured man he instead offers him a 20. Candido gladly accepts– he does not want any trouble with “la migra” as he is currently living illegally with his pregnant wife in a ravine just outside of a gated community. Unfortunately for all involved, this accidental encounter is just the catalyst for a series of events that will take both men and their families to a place that will only end in tragedy.

This book does depend heavily on stereotypical thinking and I think that T.C. Boyle did a very good job of portraying both sides equally as prejudiced.

Of course he was illegal– he was a Mexican wasn’t he? ~Delany

Look at all of these fat Gringos, they have everything yet they appreciate nothing! ~Candido

Neither side was portrayed as “good guys” or “bad guys” and each couple were as right as they were wrong. The loathing and animosity, self-righteousness and sense of entitlement was quite balanced no matter who you were reading about. I did find my self feeling a bit more sympathetic towards the Mexican couple just because they seemed to have such a sad existence and such a bleak future ahead of them. I found it unfathomable that they would rather live like animals illegally in a different country than in their own. But they also pissed me off with their careless and disrespectful ways when they were “visitors” (cooking someone else’s family cat for dinner was unforgivable! I threatened to remove a star for that act alone but couldn’t really justify it!!! Dame Edith is still alive in my heart!). In the end, nobody wins.

*Sigh* I can’t say that I liked this book much but it was well written and maybe relevant to life in that part of the United States. 3 stars.

The Child Who. I don’t think that I would have picked this one up had it not been the pick for the Opinionless Virtual Book Club but I am glad that I did (exactly why I love Book Clubs)! I am not usually one for murder/mystery; detective/lawyer type stories– it just doesn’t pique my interest– but this was a fast and fascinating read.

The subject matter is (again) controversial– this time the question being: should a child be tried as an adult if he commits an adult crime (in this case murder)? Daniel Blake is a 12-year-old boy who has murdered (and nearly raped) an 11-year-old girl and has freely admitted that he has done so. Leo Curtius is the defense lawyer that is (by chance) handed the case. The case becomes high-profile and Leo is enthusiastic about what it could do to advance his career. He dives right in and soon begins to suspect that there is something more to Daniel’s story than meets the eye. The public is passionate about what should be done to someone who has murdered a child but it is Leo’s job to seek justice. He will do all that he can to minimize the long-term effects that this will have on his client– the boy is, after all, is still a child himself. He is loathed for what he proposes to do to help Daniel and his family suffers by association.

There were phone calls but none that counted. There were letters but none like before. It was baseless but today, somehow, was the day they had been working towards. It was the day, more accurately, they had been working against.

Again, this is another review where I don’t want to reveal too much because the story becomes more than just about the case. The ending just about knocks you off your feet– unexpected and from out of nowhere. A quick read and another page burner. You HAVE to know what happens! 4 stars.