Tony Sandoval grew up in northwestern Mexico and dreamed of becoming a comic book illustrator. When he fell in love with an American girl who was living in Mexico, his fate was sealed. Now he had to figure out a way to move to Portland to be with her. He had no luck getting a visa, so he resorted to an illegal crossing. He tells the story of that adventure in Rendez-Vous in Phoenix.
I really loved the personal perspective Sandoval brings to the story. It's not just his story, it's the story of the dad who's been crossing back and forth for years, and finally has brought his family. It's the stories of the Central Americans who cross into Mexico and ride the train north so they can cross. It's the story of the constant stream of immigrants looking for a better life in the U.S.
I didn't love the complete disrespect for the laws of the U.S. that Sandoval and his companions display. I know the vast majority of border crossers are innocent people seeking a better life (or a reunion with a lover), but there are good reasons for a country to know who is taking up residence within its borders, and good reasons why we don't like people illegally crossing over.
The ethics and politics of illegal immigration aside, Rendez-Vous in Phoenix is nicely illustrated and the story is well-told, making personal the realities of dealing with coyotes, border crossing, criminal gangs, and the heartbreaking separations that families and loved ones experience. Sandoval's account makes me very happy for him that he was able to reunite with his girlfriend, but it does not convince me that a porous border is a good thing.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!