What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the immigration system?
When Aida Hernandez was born in 1987 in Agua Prieta, Mexico, the nearby U.S. border was little more than a worn-down fence. Eight years later, Aida’s mother took her and her siblings to live in Douglas, Arizona. By then, the border had become one of the most heavily policed sites in America.
Undocumented, Aida fought to make her way. She learned English, watched Friends, and, after having a baby at sixteen, dreamed of teaching dance and moving with her son to New York City. But life had other plans. Following a misstep that led to her deportation, Aida found herself in a Mexican city marked by violence, in a country that was not hers. To get back to the United States and reunite with her son, she embarked on a harrowing journey. The daughter of a rebel hero from the mountains of Chihuahua, Aida has a genius for survival―but returning to the United States was just the beginning of her quest.
Taking us into detention centers, immigration courts, and the inner lives of Aida and other daring characters, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. With emotional force and narrative suspense, Aaron Bobrow-Strain brings us into the heart of a violently unequal America. He also shows us that the heroes of our current immigration wars are less likely to be perfect paragons of virtue than complex, flawed human beings who deserve justice and empathy all the same.
“Bobrow-Strain … tells the dramatic true tale of a woman he calls Aida Hernandez with extraordinary clarity and power . . . In this caring and unforgettable borderland saga, Bobrow-Strain reveals the profound personal toll of the immigration crisis.” Donna Seaman, Booklist Starred Review
“Searing…A rich, novelistic tale of a young woman whose life spans both sides of the United States-Mexican border . . . [Aida's] a radiantly optimistic character in a relentlessly bleak, unlucky world...."The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez is an illuminating work of literature, not an ideological tract.” Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times Book Review
“[Bobrow-Strain] brightly illuminate[s] immigration realities by focusing on the struggles of one young woman . . . [A] powerful saga . . . This potent, important work, which "occupies a space between journalism and ethnography, with a dash of oral history and biography," adds much to the continuing immigration debate.” Kirkus Starred Review
“Aida’s story—of border flight, immigration court, for-profit detention, and family separation—is required reading in the age of Trump.” Mother Jones (online edition)
“This is a riveting and distressing account of one woman’s immigration nightmare, and a well-researched argument against the status quo in border security.” Publishers Weekly
“One of the beauties of the narrative is that while this is indeed a case study of the fallout of enforcing an immoral immigration policy put into action during during the Obama administration, Hernandez is never reduced to a lecture prop. She is the protean American, in search of herself, re-inventing as she must. She’s at times a chola, a stoner, a goth. She’s straight and she’s gay. She’s Mexican, American, mother, and daughter. She’s nearly broken by PTSD; she doesn’t quit … What makes The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez exceptional and powerful is that by getting us to care about Hernandez, and by not relying on a dishonest, feel-good ending, the book also guides us, whether intentionally or not, to ask if a story about the undocumented living along the border is also a story about the value we place on the well-being and the futures of Mexican Americans in general.” Oscar Villalon, LitHub
“Bobrow-Strain … seamlessly blend[s] the intimate details of memoir into the historical and political context of U.S. immigration policies…[The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez] is a sharp portrait of a country where equality is designed only for those deemed worthy.” BookPage
“A heart-wrenching story that demonstrates the human toll resulting from our nation's lousy immigration policies.” Tucson Weekly
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For media inquiries, please contact:
Sarita Varma (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
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Matt McGowan (Francis Goldin Literary Agency)