Journalist and author Alfredo Corchado (Midnight in Mexico) first came to the U.S. with his family when he was five years old. Initially, it was not a step up. In Mexico, they left behind loved ones in a beautiful small town for California farm work and an ugly, overcrowded trailer home. After dropping out of high school and struggling to belong, Corchado became a successful journalist with a foot on each side of the border. Homelands is a memoir, but also a larger story of Mexican American lives between two overlapping nations.
In the late 1980s, Corchado was recruited from his home in El Paso, Tex., to write for the Wall Street Journal in Philadelphia. He was cold and miserable there, but he also formed three of the most important friendships of his life: with a labor and human rights activist, a lawyer and a food and drink entrepreneur. The first night they all came together, "we began a conversation that has lasted more than thirty years, turning on a fundamental and deeply personal question: How could we prove ourselves American yet hold on to our Mexican roots?" Corchado tells their stories intertwined with the history of Mexican migration to the U.S. and his reports from the border and from growing Mexican American communities all over the nation. Economic needs, shared history, culture and intimate ties all seem likely to outlast the most recent wave of anti-immigrant hostility. "Can we live without one another, Mexico and the United States? Can we even imagine that?" Why, this book asks, would we even want to? --Sara Catterall