Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Highwire Moon” as Want to Read:
Highwire Moon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Highwire Moon

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  501 ratings  ·  73 reviews
With a new introduction by the author
Finalist for the National Book Award: The story of a young mother deported and separated from her child, and the pair's efforts to locate each other years later Highwire Moon narrates the journeys of a young mother and daughter divided. Serafina is a Mexican-Indian scraping by in Southern California; detained by immigration official
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Mysteriouspress.Com/Open Road (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Highwire Moon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Highwire Moon

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  501 ratings  ·  73 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Julene Bair
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An inspired, imaginative and compassionate view of immigrant Mixtec ("a member of an American Indian people living in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Puebla")family's travails. This is a very subjective read. You're dropped into the heart-driven minds of many people, particularly a Mixtec mother and her daughter who were separated from one another by U.S. Immigration authorities when the girl was only 3. I was addicted to this book, turning pages late into the night. Amazed by the co ...more
As a daughter of a strong hardworking woman who sacrificed so much throughout her life, whether it was for her siblings or her children, this book was the first that I've read to come close to describing the lengths that a mother (like mine) or a daughter would go to for their beloved.
As a reader of a diverse background, albeit not the same background as the characters, it was definitely interesting to get a glimpse into a society so much like mine in its bilingualism and divide between holding
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a pleasant surprise. The author gave us a solid feel of what it must be like to illegally cross the US/Mex border, walk in the shoes of the immigrants, live near the border, but more importantly seek one's roots. This author captures the "feel" of looking into eyes that see you. This book was pretty amazing and I'm sorry to see it end. We all want to know we're loved, not merely tolerated.
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Timely read, with the conversation going on about immigration reform. The story is a heartbreaker, and even more so when you're living south of the border. I'm living in Oaxaca right now, and I've seen the sad quiet in the small villages, where all the men of working age have gone north to make some money. They'd come home, if they could.
Destiny Anaya
Serafina Mendez is a 15 year old illegal immigrant from Mexico. She is a Mixteco, a Mexican Indian. When she crosses the border, she lives with her brother in a garage. She works at a place called Angeles Linen, while her brother went to work. One day, the immigration come in to take away any Mexicans. Larry Foley, finds her in a box and takes her home. Serafina ends up getting pregnant. She names her daughter Elvia. Serafina and her daughter live with Larry for three years. Larry ends up being ...more
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is visceral in its desire for maternal connection. So many children missing their mothers and some of those mothers missing their children. And then there are the mothers who disregard their children and those who are not privileged with the title of “mother” but who provide the love and security the children are seeking.

At the core of this book is the sudden separation of Serfina, a Mexican Indian woman is in the US illegally, from her 3 year old daughter Elvia. Serafina spend years
Apr 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A more weighty than usual vacation read...get in the truck and go with a fierce pregnant teen, her painfully human dad, homemade speed, terrifying border crossings, flipped-out wanna-be shamans, and deep and endless mother love. Bonus benefit to reading this: I am 110% more likely to buy organic produce.
Catherine Bliss
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was fascinating reading about the California desert that I grew up in from the perspective of some of the other cultures/subjects who cohabit it - farmworkers, day laborers, and speed freaks, to name a few. the character study of contemporary pregnant teens and illegal immigrants is especially worth getting into. Poignant and humbling.
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a heart-wrenching story--with a view into a brutal world that most of us think we are aware of. NO, we are not.
Gretchen Heimlich
Changed the way I see the world. An important book.
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A realistic glimpse into the lives of Mixtec immigrants: who they are, and what the dangers and hardships are when they come into the United States to work. Unfortunately, I expect the situations depicted here are more common than we want to admit, such as employers who defy immigration law, do not pay the workers fully, and then call the migra to avoid the immigrants' demands for their pay. I enjoyed this glimpse into the difficult lives of people who pick our produce, and believe more firmly i
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone

What a great book! It is the story of a mother and daughter who are separated when the daughter is only three. Serafina was an illegal Mexican immigrant who came to California from Oaxaca to work the oranges. Being Mexican Indian, she is considered the lowest even by other Mexicans. She was only 16 and got stranded in Rio Seco, which is Straight's fictional town based on Riverside, CA.

Serafina ends up with Larry, a white man who works various construction jobs, uses speed and was raised in foste
Priscilla Lopez
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book extremely difficult to read. There were a lot of hard moments for both Serafina and Elvia. Due to the hard content I don't think I'll be reading it again. I read books for pleasure and I don't feel comfortable with reading something that is very excruciating. One of the reasons it was uncomfortable was because it reminded of a time when my mother had left me. One of the moments I found hard was when Elvia was dealing with her dad and his girlfriend. Oh my gosh. I was just waiti ...more
Deverius Jones
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely phenomenal book to put into the hands of a teenager (particularly one that's pregnant; but truly, any teenager, or just about anybody, period, will find a tremendous amount here that's of value). And I am awed by the depth of experience and (I assume) research that Straight demonstrates in her writing about indigenous undocumented workers.

However... frustratingly, there are so many events in this book that feel like they were rushed in the writing, or in the telling, like they occu
Rebecca Garcia
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sad, sweet, stirring. this book will wake you up to the realization that Cesar Chaves shivers in his grave. It brings the true and frightening world of undocumented workers into your own. you will not be able to eat lettuce again without thinking of Florencio or strawberries without noting that little green lacy crown on their heads. you will buy grapes remembering Hector and eat tortillas thinking of Serafina making so many thousand golden suns and given them all away to be eaten within minutes ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: s-read-in-2017
I was drawn to this book because the description spoke of people who desperately snuck through the night from Mexico to California looking for work, for a chance to change their lives and that of their families.
I was born in Texas on the Rio Grande and have memories of the farmworkers who would show up in the early morning hours looking for work on my family's farm. My father gave them work and they taught him how to cook lucious Mexican food. To this day I have not had salsa as good as my fath
Crystal Allen
Jan 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Crystal by: City Lights Bookstore
Shelves: fiction, 4mybookclub
I liked this book a lot... but didn't love it. A Mexican immigrant comes to America at the age of 15. Lost and confused she moves in with a man and has his baby. Missing home she drives to a church to pray to the Virgin Mary and leaves her sleeping child in the car. Immigration catches her and sends her back to Mexico not understanding her cries of "My Dotter, My Dotter!". She tries to cross back immediately and is brutally raped, beaten and left for dead. Luckily a friend finds her and returns ...more
Val Wilkerson
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books-read
This is a story about illegal immigrants in the United States. Sarafina is illegally in the U.S. and she has a 3 year old little girl, Elvia. She leaves sleeping Elvia in the car when she goes into the church for a minute but instead she is picked up and deported immediately, she was trying so hard to tell them about her "dodder" and they thought she was saying she needed a doctor. Back across into Mexico she is sent and Elvia is later put into the foster care system. Sarafina is besides herself ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
More accurate rating: 3.5

The writing and characterizations were great, for the most part. Straight does a really great job on voice; each character's thoughts and actions and feelings were their own. Although, it took me several chapters to care about the characters, especially Ellie and Larry.

That being said, the ending was a bit underwhelming as I expected a heartfelt reunion. Instead, it just felt like a cliffhanger. On the other hand, I was satisfied in Ellie's eventual growth, from doubting
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got into this book straight away, it is interesting subject matter, and I really enjoyed it until the very last page which I didn't enjoy! I found that I had to concentrate quite hard while reading it as it goes from different people's perspectives and from various times in the past and to the present, without being explicit so sometimes I had to reread a bit to understand what was happening.
I used to speak moderate Spanish so I enjoyed all the Spanish words thrown in to the English sentences
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I really wish I could give this book a higher review, but I had a very hard time getting through it. Interesting concept, about a girl and her mother trying to find each other 12 years after being separated by U.S. immigration authorities.

I could handle the desperate misery of the lives of itinerant workers from the U.S. and Mexico, but it became very repetitive about the evils of the way the U.S./Mexico border is managed. A lot of the details, sadly, felt like filler.

I want to like Susan Strai
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's a book looking at illegal immigrants through their eyes. It's a beautifully written story about a woman who hides in the trunk of a car of a priest to get over the border where she meets a kind man who takes her in and together they have a beautiful daughter. When their daughter is three, the mother is taken away while trying to get into a church to pray. The rest of the book is how they survived as mother and daughter looked for each other.

What a lovely story! What a beautifully written
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never actually finished this book because I was reading it inside the bookstore... but I almost finished it... I really liked it because I think the author does a good job of going inside other peoples' lives - and some people really do deal with lives this difficult... it is really nitty gritty and seems to me really accurate. If you like books that get down and dirty and real then this is really good
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a very hard book to read. The author writes about a group of people who live very hard lives. But she seemed to dwell on tragedy. I know our immigration system is a disaster and that good people get hurt all the time. But, couldn't one neighbor, teacher or social worker help this girl. The only stability in her life came from her foster mother who seemed powerless to really help her. Maybe I am just too much of an optimist.
I really like this book, but I'm not able to say exactly why. It's hard for me to read because it involves the loss of a child and the pain that both the mother and the child feel. The language barriers make me sad. Sandy Narlette is the character who redeems the book for me. Her love & wisdom shine thru. Larry (Elvia's father) tries, but he just doesn't have the know-how parenting a teen takes. I think he finally comes to that realization.
Stephanie Steinberg
I am not sure if this was a 4 star or more of a 3 1/2 but it was a really good story about the experience of Mexican people who come to the U.S illegally and about a woman who is separated from her daughter against her will. Also the story of that daughter and her experience both with foster care and her time living with her father.
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
_Highwire Moon_ deals with mixed race characters, Mexican-American immigrants, Native American Mexicans, meth use, social class, and teenage pregnancy. It's GREAT!!!! I am so sorry I missed it when it was up for the national book award and so grateful to find it now. It also has a strong mother-daughter theme which is lovely, powerful, tragic. It left me with hope in the end.

Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly simplistic story but fascinating nonetheless. I have students who write about the hard work their family does in the agricultural fields in the area so this novel gave me more insight into their lives and the lives of what immigrants will do to cross the boarder and the challenges they face physically and emotionally once they arrive in California.
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book for being a Mixteco immigration story. All too often indigenous groups (and even other nationalities) get elided in the idea of Mexican migrants to the United States. It was a story of hope and family amid the grim realities that often haunt an immigrant's life. The characters were relatable, but not particularly memorable.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Book of Dead Birds
  • The Mercy Seat
  • Sweet Summer: Growing up with and without My Dad
  • Nisei Daughter
  • Conception
  • Little Beauties
  • Wounded
  • The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands
  • Not Yet Drown'd: A Novel
  • The Shadow Catcher
  • Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space
  • Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years
  • The Chaneysville Incident
  • China Boy
  • Golden Country
  • Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing
  • The God of War
  • Still Water Saints
See similar books…

Susan Straight's newest novel is "Between Heaven and Here." It is the last in the Rio Seco Trilogy, which began with "A Million Nightingales" and "Take One Candle Light a Room." She has published eight novels, a novel for young readers and a children's book. She has also written essays and articles for numerous national publications, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation and
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »