Contemporary · Romance · Thriller · YA

The Border by Steve Schafer

A brilliant, memorable novel. This is a book that shows the other side of the very debated issue of illegal migration. I’m not usually a fan of books that approach the dark side of society, but this one is a must-read for people to realise that in the end, we’re all human and most of the time illegal immigrants are victims forced to flee their homes due to events beyond their control.

A peaceful night of celebration turns into a bloodbath. During the birthday party of his cousin, Pato, Arbo, Gladys and Marcos sneak away quietly from the house to smoke. Suddenly the sound of multiple gunshots ring through the night and the group returns home only to find their families dead and the shooters still in the house. Forced to run, with nowhere to go and a bounty on their heads, the four teenagers are driven across the desert in hopes of finding sanctuary in American territory.

The storyline is very solid and the details are very nicely described. This truly is the perfect novel that portraits the current issues of society and how quickly the media and the people forget that sometimes illegal immigrants are running from life-threatening situations, in this case, extreme violence. It explores how much a person can endure, how they react in extreme conditions just to have a chance at an unknown future. Steve Schafer managed to capture perfectly the effects of the traumatic experience of these characters and it’s both admirable and heartbreaking. This novel shows that all a person has at some point can be taken away and that nothing should be taken for granted. If the objective of the author was to inspire compassion, understanding and empathy towards the victims of the horrors that lead to illegal immigration, he did a brilliant job. For me, he marked literature with this novel.

The characters are very well-developed and it’s very easy for the reader to connect with them. Each one reacts to events and interprets information different, which gives the reader to understand them and bond with them in different ways. It’s even easier to get entangled in their story, to really feel for their struggles and to root for them in their journey. I felt emotionally connected to them and it was both a pleasure and a struggle for me, to know that even though these are characters, these are the struggles of a lot of desperate people.

The story is quite fast-paced and intense at times but it has its slow moments too; I would say that it’s to give the reader a break and to give some time to adjust to the events that occurred before. There aren’t just moments of sadness or fear; there are also moments of humour and some drama when a line of romance starts to develop between two characters, which softens the story a bit and lightens the mood. One thing is for sure, the plot isn’t predictable at all, and the reader doesn’t know what is just around the corner.

It’s a fast-paced, heartfelt novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. It fully deserves its five stars and people should definitely read it at least once in their lives.

I want to thank the author for reaching out and for giving me access to the digital copy of his book through NetGalley.

4 Stars

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