"The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America" (Encore Presentation)

Jun 7, 2017

(Note: This program originally aired in April.) On this edition of ST, we speak with Daniel Connolly, a reporter who has, for more than a decade, covered Mexican immigration into the Southern U.S. for The Associated Press in Little Rock, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, and other outlets. He joins us to discuss his book, "The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America." As was noted of this book by Kirkus Reviews: "The American views on immigration took center stage during the 2016 presidential primaries, with Democrat and Republican candidates offering up multiple solutions to the immigration 'problem,' which this book makes clear is not so easily simplified. Connolly, who has reported on the subject for more than 10 years, puts to rest the idea of a single problem, whether it be the Republican or the Democratic framing of an issue that seems to require more than any one political outlook can address. Living deep in the Midwest with his parents -- illegal immigrants from Mexico, years before -- Isaias Ramos is a teenager, first and foremost, seeking his way in the world. He wrestles with the questions of postsecondary education versus immediately entering the workplace, following in his parents' footsteps doing manual work. His school recognizes his potential as he handily dispatches various educational assessment exams, ranking sixth in his class and scoring a 29 on the ACT -- better than 93 percent of students in the United States. At the same time, the school struggles to provide the resources needed to support the aspirations they have for him. Student aid for children of immigrants proves a bureaucratic mess that ultimately seems to be a dead end. As with nearly any teenager, Isaias' story pulls other teens into its orbit intermittently, as they learn the ways of moving from childhood into adulthood. Isaias undoubtedly grew over the years when Connolly got to know him, blending the transition of teenager-into-adulthood with the transition of a Mexican family into America. There is a wide, almost universal air to the author’s writing, as he alternately tells a narrowly focused story and a broad-based one, making clear that this tale of one family's immigration cannot be told without laying bare the complex context in which it is situated. [This is] a story of one child of illegal immigrants that has a much wider, timely resonance." You can access a free, on-demand audio-stream of our conversation with Mr. Connolly here.