The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story

The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story

What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the U.S. 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....

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Title:The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story
Author:Aaron Bobrow-Strain
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Edition Language:English

The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story Reviews

  • Nancy

    The House on Mango Street changed Aida Hernandez's life. In her darkest hours, she remembered the words of hope: "I have gone a long way to come back."

    Aida wanted to dance. She wanted to finish high school and go to college. She wanted to become a therapist. She wanted to give her son a good home. She wanted to love and be loved. Her hopes were just like yours and mine.

    But Aida's life held more horrors than any one body should be able to endure. She had survived even death but suffered from crip

    The House on Mango Street changed Aida Hernandez's life. In her darkest hours, she remembered the words of hope: "I have gone a long way to come back."

    Aida wanted to dance. She wanted to finish high school and go to college. She wanted to become a therapist. She wanted to give her son a good home. She wanted to love and be loved. Her hopes were just like yours and mine.

    But Aida's life held more horrors than any one body should be able to endure. She had survived even death but suffered from crippling CPTSD--Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She came from a legacy of abuse but a knife attack tipped her over the edge. It only took one mistake, a $6 mistake, to remove Aida from her son and family, locked up for months in a women's prison. They were not given tampons, or enough toilet paper, or adequate wholesome food. There were not enough beds or blankets to keep warm.

    And that is when Aida saw The House on Mango Street on the prison library shelf and it started her reclamation and a life of helping the other women with her.

    Aaron Bobrow-Strain's book The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez brings to life unforgettable women, and through their stories, explores the failure of Prevention Through Deterrence which posits that if the journey is horrific enough people will not come. Women suffer the most in this system.

    He shows how American economic and political policies and the desire for cheap labor created the influx of illegal immigrants.

    Immigrants in detention centers are treated like hardened criminals with shackles, solitary confinement, lack of medical care, meager inedible food, and a scarcity of hygiene supplies. They have no legal rights. They are provided no legal counsel. Border Patrol and detention centers have created jobs and business--paid for by the government.

    Who are the people seeking refuge in America? What drives them from their homeland? What options are available for legal immigration? What happens to those who are apprehended? This book will answer all your questions. But you may not like the answers.

    Justice. How many times have we forgotten this value?

    The proceeds from this book will be shared between Aida Hernandez, the Chiricahua Community Health Centers to support emergency services for people dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault, and the author to offset costs of writing the book. Which for me means an instant add to my "to buy" list.

    I thank the publisher who provided a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • M

    The timing could not be better for this compelling and informative book, as discussions about immigration policy and border enforcement increasingly dominate the news cycle, often with a scarcity of details about the larger context of this generations-old issue. Aida’s story is both heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting, and is presented as one of many other untold stories of people caught up in the legally, socially and economically complicated intersection that is the US-Mexico border. It is

    The timing could not be better for this compelling and informative book, as discussions about immigration policy and border enforcement increasingly dominate the news cycle, often with a scarcity of details about the larger context of this generations-old issue. Aida’s story is both heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting, and is presented as one of many other untold stories of people caught up in the legally, socially and economically complicated intersection that is the US-Mexico border. It is also beautifully told in a highly readable narrative that captures the emotional force of the story - both the highs and the lows - without ever becoming preachy or didactic. I especially appreciated the way the author wove in an account of the historical and structural forces that have shaped the current reality in the two towns on either side of the Arizona border that are the main setting of the story, without taking away from the driving force and pace of Aida’s unfolding life story.

  • Holly

    This initially stood out to me because of the reversal of "life and death" in the title. It's required reading, not just in the age of Trump, but in the age of humanity, or an age where humanity is the same as it's always been, cruel and binary. Aaron Bobrow-Strain has an immense gift for nonfiction prose, and Aida Hernandez is well-served here, if not in life. This is a book I'll be recommending for the rest of my life. Claro que sí, I wish I wouldn't have to.

  • Natalie Lerner

    I would strongly recommend this book to everyone! An incredibly compelling and comprehensive read, I felt both educated and moved

  • Karen

    The author masterfully combines the lived experiences of an undocumented immigrant, and those involved in her life, with large scale views of the immigration system, DC political decisions, and the criminal justice system to show how policy directly impacts and interacts with everyday lives. The result is a book that humanizes the struggle of those living on and around the US/Mexico border, shows how arbitrary borders and the laws surrounding border law are, and the need for sensible and compass

    The author masterfully combines the lived experiences of an undocumented immigrant, and those involved in her life, with large scale views of the immigration system, DC political decisions, and the criminal justice system to show how policy directly impacts and interacts with everyday lives. The result is a book that humanizes the struggle of those living on and around the US/Mexico border, shows how arbitrary borders and the laws surrounding border law are, and the need for sensible and compassionate policies that are based in mercy, understanding, and reality rather than punishment, perception, and jingoism.

  • Jessie

    This book defies genres. It reads like the best of novels: a deeply engrossing, vividly written, page-turning story that I simply could not put down, and that brought me to tears (of both kinds) on numerous occasions. For this alone, I highly recommend this book! Yet the book is also not a novel: it is a true story, based on meticulous research and years of interviews. Aida's story is carefully interwoven with the complex history of U.S.-Mexico immigration, told by a scholar who has researched t

    This book defies genres. It reads like the best of novels: a deeply engrossing, vividly written, page-turning story that I simply could not put down, and that brought me to tears (of both kinds) on numerous occasions. For this alone, I highly recommend this book! Yet the book is also not a novel: it is a true story, based on meticulous research and years of interviews. Aida's story is carefully interwoven with the complex history of U.S.-Mexico immigration, told by a scholar who has researched this topic for years. The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez is a stunning accomplishment, and one that I am recommending widely and fervently.

  • Allison B.

    After reading The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez, I now feel much better educated about how U.S. immigration policy and border enforcement practices have evolved over the last 25 years. The book has helped me know when to call B.S. on a candidate's talking points and better judge when a politician or NGO is proposing something that might actually help make immigration policy more humane and make the border a permeable line that people and goods can cross safely, rather than a militarized zone.

    After reading The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez, I now feel much better educated about how U.S. immigration policy and border enforcement practices have evolved over the last 25 years. The book has helped me know when to call B.S. on a candidate's talking points and better judge when a politician or NGO is proposing something that might actually help make immigration policy more humane and make the border a permeable line that people and goods can cross safely, rather than a militarized zone. An idea from the book that will stick with me is that immigration policy and border security are not broken - they're functioning exactly as intended. Thus, the longterm focus of advocates (and anyone who cares) should be on shifting the intent of these policies, rather than merely doing some reconfiguration and triage around the edges.

    What made the book most gripping is the narrative of Aida Hernandez's life. Through his collaboration with Aida, her family, and others whose lives intersected hers, Aaron Bobrow-Strain does a masterful job of telling the story of her fraught, human, and courageous life.

  • Jill Dobbe

    An incredible story based on the life of Aida Hernandez, a Mexican woman who made her way to the U.S. only to experience one disaster after another, among them abuse, prison, homelessness, joblessness and poverty. The one shining light in her life was her son and she did everything she possibly could to keep them together.

    The author learned of Aida and her story and through many interviews, along with his own research, turned her story, and the story of others, into a book. A timely border story

    An incredible story based on the life of Aida Hernandez, a Mexican woman who made her way to the U.S. only to experience one disaster after another, among them abuse, prison, homelessness, joblessness and poverty. The one shining light in her life was her son and she did everything she possibly could to keep them together.

    The author learned of Aida and her story and through many interviews, along with his own research, turned her story, and the story of others, into a book. A timely border story that incorporates the history and difficulties of Mexicans migrating to the U.S. Aida's story, and others who tried and failed to relocate to the U.S., will resonate with readers who also follow the U.S. government's stand on immigration, a system that continues to be broken.

    Reading this book, it's hard to believe everything that Aida went through. It's not an easy life for immigrants, even once they get to the U.S. Aida, however, persevered and built a life for her son and for herself. I only hope that she has finally found some peace and stability wherever she is living now.

    Thank you Netgalley.

  • Serge

    This book succeeds in broadening public conversation about immigration policy that concerns undocumented men and women surviving along the border. In particular, this mix of journalistic fiction and ethnic-biography places a spotlight on asylum policy for survivors of abuse. Aida’s story is rooted in many poor decisions and many inescapable circumstances. The trauma that she experiences should encourage the reader to re-evaluate our country’s treatment of less than model immi

    This book succeeds in broadening public conversation about immigration policy that concerns undocumented men and women surviving along the border. In particular, this mix of journalistic fiction and ethnic-biography places a spotlight on asylum policy for survivors of abuse. Aida’s story is rooted in many poor decisions and many inescapable circumstances. The trauma that she experiences should encourage the reader to re-evaluate our country’s treatment of less than model immigrants who are complicit by choice or by circumstance with narco-criminal exploitation of the vulnerable and marginalized. Neither conservatives nor liberals will be fully satisfied with the resolution/ solution to the core conflict in the book. For this reason, I consider the book a compelling conversation starter for a national dialogue on immigration. Compassion and pragmatism must prevail.

  • MCZ Reads

    The book tackles a wide breadth of material, and it does so with grace. The author provides historical context so the reader understands how the current policies regarding the US-Mexican border came into place. Aida’s story highlights the failure of policies and those writing and enforcing them to account for the complexity of the lives they affect. I did feel that some of the information about Raúl and Ema distracted from the story, and I wish they had been included in a smoother way. But overa

    The book tackles a wide breadth of material, and it does so with grace. The author provides historical context so the reader understands how the current policies regarding the US-Mexican border came into place. Aida’s story highlights the failure of policies and those writing and enforcing them to account for the complexity of the lives they affect. I did feel that some of the information about Raúl and Ema distracted from the story, and I wish they had been included in a smoother way. But overall this book did a wonderful way of showing a heartbreaking problem without ever condemning the situation as hopeless.

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