Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Only Road (The Only Road #1)” as Want to Read:
The Only Road (The Only Road #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Only Road

(The Only Road #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  911 ratings  ·  200 reviews
Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead.

Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime
320 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Paula Wiseman Books / Simon & Schuster
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 The Only Road, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mayra I guess the reason for the hopeful ending is that the book is aimed maybe at 5th grade and up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  911 ratings  ·  200 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Only Road (The Only Road #1)
Intense and heartbreaking and thought provoking. Anyone who approves of the current round of massive deportations of undocumented immigrants should read this to understand a little of why people from Mexico and South and Central America choose come to the U.S. illegally and what they go through just to get here.

This was ostensibly written for kids, but I think it would be a great book to read and discuss as a family or even for a community read.
Alex  Baugh
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
After his cousin Miguel is beaten to death by a gang called the Alphas for refusing to join them, Jaime, 12, and Miguel’s sister Ángela, 15, receive a note from the gang instructing them to show up a a certain place in six days. Though the note doesn’t say it, both children know that they will meet the same fate as Miguel if they aren’t there.

The Alphas are a powerful gang of young people dealing in drugs and death, and even the drug addicted police chief is unable to do anything about their
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book broke my heart. But it is such an important read. The author kept up constant tension throughout. So much so that I had a stomach ache while reading one night.
Linda George
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story about two children who leave Guatemala in the middle of the night to escape the drugs and gangs to make a new life in America.
Garrett Gaudin
I think that this was a very good book that has lots of meaning and really gives you a look inside what it would be like to immigrate. Although they are only immigrating to Mexico from Guatemala that seems even worse. In my opinion if you want to read a book that really lets you see what it would be like to immigrate then read The Only Road. I would easily give this book a 5/5 stars.
Renee Hall
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book that's grounded in a real-life situation, and it does such an incredible, powerful job of putting you in those characters' shoes -- of making you realize that yes, people go through this, children go through this -- that you wish you could somehow get everyone in the country to read it. It feels that true, and that important.

This is one of those books. I believe it's listed as middle grade as far as age is concerned; ignore that. Adults will get as much out of it (maybe
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Alphas run Jaime's small Guatemalan town, and everyone is right to be afraid of them. When Jaime's cousin Miguel is killed by them, and then Jaime and Miguel's sister Angela are "invited" to join, their parents scrap together as much money as possible and send them north. Jaime's older brother Tomas is working in New Mexico, and their only hope for a life worth living is to make it to him. But this means crossing two borders and the entire country of Mexico on their own. This is a harrowing ...more
Ms. Stephens
I didn't read the whole thing - I really wanted to like it because immigration is such an important current issue, and kids would understand it better if they could put themselves into a Central American immigrant's shoes through fiction. However, this book just didn't meet my literary standards: too much tell, not show. I kept reading because I kept hoping... and it was a fine story... I'll keep hoping that something amazing comes out on this same topic within the next year or two. (Surely ...more
A pretty wonderful story about the terrible choices some kids need to make, in this case, to leave their homes and families to get away from vicious gangs who would otherwise force them into virtual slavery. There is a happy ending but that doesn't make the situation better for the next kid racing to a train, risking death and dismemberment to try to cross the border into the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
Wow. This is so well done, and so significant to our social conversations. This is definitely more middle school, but I'm wishing it could be for my kids. Having some frame of reference to talk about the challenge of Central American kids trying to come to the US, and why their families feel/need to send them, and to do it in a really readable, really interesting story is fantastic. Here's to more books that give us such experiences.
A very timely, but heavy book about a 12-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl escaping gang violence in Guatemala by trying to get to the United States.
Ryan Cinfel
The this book, I chose a collage of images that show important facts or information about events and characters in the book. I believe that a collage would be fitting for this book based on the main character's (Jaime) use of art and sketches throughout. I made a collage of images using the Pages app on an iPad and attached the image of it to my Canvas assignment submission. Using art in book responses allows students to express their knowledge of the book through artistic intelligence and ...more
Caurie Kuzelka
So I picked number 7 on the list of alternatives to book reports which is "Describe the culture or ethnic setting as presented in your book as compared to your life." I chose this because while I was reading this book I just felt so much empathy for the main character, Jaime, because I knew that I have never and will most likely never experience the hardships and situations that Jaime had to go through. I chose this too because Donalyn Miller expresses her stance on peer suggestions and letting ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
When Miguel dies, Jaime and Angela’s family finds a way to save them from the gang violence and drug trafficking that was responsible for Miguel’s death. This means saying goodbye to home and everything that is familiar to them, making a difficult and dangerous journey from Guatemala, through Mexico and into the United States to join Jamie’s brother Tomas. From their experiences in refugee shelters, stowing away on trains, confrontations with la migra, and walking through a desert, it
Brianne Honda
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
After Jaime’s cousin and best friend, Miguel, is murdered by The Alphas, an infamous gang in Guatemala, for refusing to join them, the Alphas recruit Jaime and his cousin, Angela, to join next. Jaime and Angela have two choices: join the Alphas or escape to the United States to live with Jaime’s brother in New Mexico. They decide that their best chance of living the life they want is to cross the border illegally to the US. Their families gather all the money they can and sew it in Jaime’s ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018

this was a very enlightening read, i would say. even though it’s a middle grade (?) novel, i felt like i really learned a lot about what people face as they immigrate to the united states. obviously this just skimmed the surface, but it was very interesting to read about.

the characters felt real and relatable, despite us being from completely different backgrounds. something that was also portrayed in this book was the lack of options the characters had. like, jaime and ángela had literally
Dee Kohler
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Harrowing story of two children trying to immigrate from Guatemala on their own. To escape gangs and threats of violence in their homeland Jaime and Angela set off on a journey through Mexico to their brothers home in the U.S. Along the way they find danger at nearly every turn but they also find compassion and kindness from strangers along this perilous road. Six grade and up.
Megan Nason
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although, the book was hard to get into and in the beginning was boring I kept reading it and I'm glad I did. It showed the ups and downs of a treacherous journey that two relatable kids went through. I really enjoyed that the author wasn't afraid to add the true emotions of the characters even if they were a bit raw. Overall a good read.
Deunara Silva-Hewage

Amanda Vail
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking and eye opening read, for young adults and grownups alike. I’d encourage anyone wondering about our current border crisis to read this beautifully written book.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Riveting story of two teens on a perilous journey. While fictional, this story is based on real events happening today. A must read for anyone interested in immigration issues.
Connie Whitcomb
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although this book is listed as "youth" at the library, I couldn't put it down. Two days later I'm still thinking about it. The horrors the children endured are still fresh in my mind they were so well drawn without gross detail. The characters were vivid. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the emigration issues facing Central America. Or to anyone who enjoys a moving narrative.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book. You feel the characters struggles.
Deborah Bancroft
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An important book about the experiences of Central American children attempting to cross the border into the US.
After the gang-related death of a family member, there is only one way out for cousins Jaime, 12, and Angela, 15. Their families pool their resources and arrange for the youngsters to head to the United States where Jaime's brother Tomas is living. Each step of their journey from Guatemala is fraught with danger, and while they receive help from unexpected sources, they are also betrayed and tricked by others and fearful of what might happen to them if they are caught. The author effectively ...more
Wonderful, heartbreaking, timely, and marking the end of my homework this semester. Also the dog lives. All the stars for safe dogs!
Kate Calina
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jaime threw a fistful of dirt over his cousin’s coffin. The Alphas watched from the hillside above the cemetery. Anger and fear washed over him. Jaime couldn’t suppress his thoughts as he watched the murderers staring down at him: It should have been my funeral.

Within hours, the Guatemalan gang delivered a message. Jaime and his cousin Angela were their next recruits. The Alphas would force them to kill the next victims. Failure to join the gang meant certain death.

The two families gathered to
Patricia Tilton
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Alexandra Diaz’sMG novel is timely and powerful. Itis about two cousins fleeing from dangerous drug trafficking gangs in Guatemala andmaking the treacherous journey north to the United States. There are no guarantees that they will survive.Their story is heartbreaking, butit underscoresthe problem of why many Central Americanchildren illegally immigrate toAmerica.

The story is character-driven. Jaime’s third person narrative will move readers. Twelve-year-old Jaime is driven by his grief over
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is not just for middle grade students. As an educator in the public schools, I know that I may have crossed the paths of students like Jaime and Angela or of students who have family members who have experienced crossing the border. While I've read the news about children crossing the border, this book helped me deepen my understanding of the the courage they must have to take this journey and the horrific circumstances they face.

If you have students (who have not experienced crossing
Taylor Maiese
The Only Road is heart wrenching, terrifying, and eye-opening. It is so heart breaking knowing that this family has to send the two children ages 12 and 15 to new Mexica illegally on there own. The parents had no choice they new if they stayed in Guatemala that they would end up dead or worse in the Alphas. So they sent their children to endure on this long road to New Mexico with no guarantee that they would make it there safe. I was terrified for Angela and Jamie the situations they were ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Mighty Odds (The Mighty Odds, #1)
  • Merci Suárez Changes Gears
  • Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls (Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls, #1)
  • The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming
  • Spirit Hunters
  • The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
  • Float
  • Forever, or a Long, Long Time
  • Tight
  • Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring
  • Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish
  • Blended
  • The First Rule of Punk
  • Front Desk
  • Harbor Me
  • La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papa / My Journey with Papa
  • Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
  • Up From the Sea
See similar books…

Other books in the series

The Only Road (2 books)
  • The Crossroads (The Only Road #2)