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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,550 ratings  ·  261 reviews
The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California--fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, Ernesto Flores had always had a fascination with the United States, the faraway land of skyscrapers and Nikes, while his identical twin, Raul, never
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Crown Publishing Group (NY)
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Traci at The Stacks Yes. It is non-fiction. The names of certain people and towns have been changed in order to protect those in the story, but otherwise it is true.

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Diane S ☔
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Another timely read. Two seventeen years old young men, twins from ElSalvador, part of a large, rather poor family, find they are in danger, marked for death. Gangs are notorious, one joins or one lives in fear. Hiding in their house is only a temporary answer. Their older brother, is already illegally in the states, now the twins must join him.

This book, does an admirable job showing the danger those coming here face in their travels. In the detention centers and in trying to achieve s legal st
I REALLY like this book. It is informative about the situation in El Salvador, about unaccompanied migrant minors in the US and is also remarkably well written.

The author is a journalist, a reporter and an author. She has worked with young migrants at Oakland International High School, located in the Bay area of northern California. The school is dedicated to teaching immigrant kids English. Lauren Markham is writing about what she knows and cares about, and it shows! Anyone can compile a mass
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars Publishing on 9/12/17

Thank you to First-to-Read for this ARC in return for an honest review.

This is an immigration story. The story of seventeen year old Raul and Ernesto Flores - who fled from El Salvador to Texas in 2013. It tells of the harrowing experience of life in El Salvador for these twins - with their uncle trying to kill them - and what their $7000 each bought them in the illegal trip through Mexico and into the United States. It tells of their reunion with a older illegal
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
To solve a problem one must understand what caused it and address its root causes. That is a hard thing, requiring work and effort and creative thinking. Why not just make the problem illegal?

We have been trying that and it does not seem to work. "Just say no" to sex or drugs, prison sentences for drug possession, throwing a pregnant teenage daughter out of the house--none of these ever solved anything.

Illegal immigration has become the issue of the day under the present administration. Migrants
Mal Warwick
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
For those of us who live in comfortable surroundings in well-ordered towns such as Berkeley, the day-to-day realities of life as experienced by undocumented migrants may be impossible to understand. Most of what we know comes from news reports and occasional exposés about the efforts of the Trump Administration to expel what Right-Wing politicians have insisted we call "illegal immigrants." In The Far Away Brothers, Berkeley journalist Lauren Markham brings the lived experience of two young Salv ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story deserves so much more attention that it has gotten. Lauren Markham was working in a California school when she came across the Flores twins (names were changed), who found themselves forced to leave their piece of rural El Salvador because a local gangster (a relative, in fact) turned against them. She has a fine sense of the deep and varied emotions they and their relatives felt in the United States and El Salvador, of the strange and often cruel intricacies of the American asylum sy ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This very timely story focuses on the travails of twin 17-year old brothers escaping from the gangs and violence of El Salvador to "go north". Their older brother (their "far away" brother) had crossed over about 7 years earlier and had managed to pay off the ~$6K that he owed to the coyote who accompanied him on the journey. The price has gone up, and the twins each have to pay $6-7K. Their large poor family can't raise that kind of money, so put up one of their plots of land as collateral. The ...more
Kristina V. Ramos
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
It's an interesting story (the only reason I kept reading), but the writing was very bad.

3 things annoyed me the most:
-Way too much unimportant statistics (made it seem like a research paper, at times)
-No ending at all
-Too many unnecessary & boring dialogs, details etc
Kate Olson
Thanks to Crown Publishing for this free review copy!
Heartbreaking. Timely. Required reading for anyone looking to better understand the reasons that so many Central American citizens are fleeing their home countries to come to the United States. The book is deeply researched and focuses equally on both sides of the border.......if any person can read this book and not be deeply sympathetic to refugees looking for a safer life in the US, my heart aches for that reader's lack of humanity. Not a
Gurveen Kaur
(3.5 stars)

The Far Away Brothers is an account of the horrific life led by thousands in El Salvador. It's about the issues and dangers lurking in and around the region and how the only option left for, what seems like, safety is to flee and make a new life for oneself on an alien land. But does fleeing put an end to the miseries?

Families are left separated and broken. They are forced to face injustice and ill-treatment towards their kin and themselves. The area, ruled by gangs, has only violenc
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
With all the talk about Trump, The Wall, and immigration policy, this book really reminded me that we can never just focus on the political side of a human issue like this. I don’t feel like I know what the answer is but I think we all need to keep our eyes open to the people and the reality of their suffering. As I sit in a relatively upper class world with few significant problems, I am reminded of how lucky I was to be born where I was. Not necessarily more deserving. Sometimes it’s easy to l ...more
For some years I lived in Kingsville, Texas, part of the Borderlands area. Often the Department of Immigration agents were respected to their faces and despised behind their backs. The agents could never win any popularity prizes. Sometimes they found illegal immigrants who already dead or those too sick to survive. Other times the agents deported those running for their lives, sending them back to misery or death. The children found (fewer in those days) were often just warehoused, living out a ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Illegal immigration and border control has recently been a hot topic in the U.S. The influx of undocumented and unaccompanied minors has increased. What are these children risking and enduring to come to the U.S.? Markham has given us a human element to add to the discussion.

Markham has recreated the story of teen El Salvadoran twins who came into the U.S. illegally. We find out about the civil war in that country, gang violence, the pressure to join a gang, and the kidnappings for ransom. We fi
The Far Away Brothers is a moving story about twin boys from El Salvador and not only their journey to the US, but also their life once they got there. Lauren Markham's writing of Ernesto and Raul Flores’s stories has moved me to think differently about the country we live in, my own life and opportunities, and how we view immigrants of all kinds.

    As someone who has been born and raised in the US, it’s difficult to see every single aspect of this country. Raúl and Ernesto however, through the
Traci at The Stacks
I really enjoyed this book. It is a well told story that weaves a narrative of two brothers into the larger picture of the unaccompanied minor crisis from The Norther Triangle, and El Salvador more specifically. I really felt connected to the story and that I was learning a ton about whats going on, and more importantly, why.
Chris Roberts
Feb 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
America, sing me a dream,
how you kissed The Flag and let out a scream.

Same old immigrant tale,
turnstile through INS,
brand new experiences, in awe,
the pull between old and new countries,
it ends badly, heroically, all of it unremembered.,
brothers they ghost, ghosting.

Chris Roberts, God Today
Julia Keizer
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This novel tells the journey of immigration from El Salvador, for three older sons of the Flores family. It goes into details of why they had to send their first son and then following him a few years later, their twin sons. It gives details of a country in economic and political turmoil overrun by gang violence. 

This was my first Blogging for Books novel that was sent to me from Crown Publishers. I was excited to read it because they asked me, and I wanted to try more documentary type books and
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.75 stars.

I tend to be attracted to books that showcase timely social issues in a readable, narrative format. This is just such a book.

This is the true story of Ernesto and Raul Flores, identical twins who left their home in El Salvador in 2013 and illegally came to America without their parents at the age of 17. In their small rural town, the twins live with seven other siblings and their parents in crippling poverty and in constant fear of violent criminal gangs, which rule the countries of
John Newton
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I appreciated The Far Away Brothers for its attempt to shine a light on the issue of immigration to the U.S. from El Salvador in a very human way with its portrayal of how the economic distress and gang activity in the country impacts individuals. Markham paints a vivid picture of the experience of crossing Mexico and entering the United States, interactions with the immigration bureaucracy here, and how immigrants struggle with the culture of the U.S., or at least how these two immigrants—twin ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Current, breathtakingly relevant, tragic, hopeful...
Ms. Markham immersed herself in the Flores brothers' lives on a personal level and in a broad worldview spectrum. I didn't just get their story but the stories of thousands who are fleeing the most horrific lives, trying to get to the United States. I've been far removed from this, living in the frozen north, only reading the newspaper articles that pop up on Twitter; I'd be ashamed, but it gave me a very clean brain with which to read this boo
Mandy Klehr
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Lauren Markham expertly narrates the story of the twin Flores brothers' journey to becoming Americans. We follow their tale from when they depart El Salvador to when they enter the US and are shortly thereafter caught by border patrol. The story of the Flores brothers is not unlike what many immigrants experience and calls attention to the social and economic problems many face in Central America. Well researched, The Far Away Brothers is interlaced ...more
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.49 stars. Thoughtful and well-written, I would rate this book 4 stars but for a monotonous sameness in the prologue and the last few chapters. The early and middle chapters and the interludes were very good to excellent.

Markham depicts the challenges of life in El Salvador and also travel to the USA, with the help of coyotes, very effectively. Here the pseudonymous Flores family provides the drama both in Central America and in North America. The everyday struggles and dangers in both places a
Susan Morris
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very well researched & written, this book tells the story of twin brothers who fled to U.S. from El Salvador as unaccompanied minors. Gives a very human face to what these kids face that makes them leave their families, & their families pay often untrustworthy coyotes to take them on a hazardous journey. At times I was frustrated with the choices the boys were making but they were only teenagers & with no parental guidance! But reading this in today’s political situation was rather depressing- w ...more
Angela Juline
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really loved the book in the informative and captivating. Considering it is a true story, it doesn't seem fair to say it got boring. But, I think the writing fell off a bit. ...more
Emily Goode
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Far Away Brothers tells the story of identical twins Enersto and Raúl Flores (names changed for their protection), who immigrate to the US from El Salvador, after Ernesto finds himself on the wrong side of a gang in their country El Salvador. We follow them through their lives growing up to their their journey across the Rio Grande as unaccompanied minors smuggled into the US with the aid of a coyote, and on to Oakland, California where they reunite with their older brother who illegally imm ...more
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Super depressing read, appropriate for the topic, but too much like reading the news. I did appreciate the statistics and political context, but the best parts were about the boys and their family members. The author has worked with the Oakland International HS for years and met the immigrant teens there and asked if she could tell their story in a book -- she'd been writing news stories about immigration for years, so is the right person to tell it from a journalist's perspective. In defense of ...more
Carly Friedman
Another book that I think everyone must read this year!

Markham did an excellent job describing the lives of two immigrant teen boys, Ernesto and Raul. They are twins who traveled from El Salvador to join an older brother in California to escape crippling poverty and gang violence. The book covers their life in El Salvador, the dangerous trip to El Norte, their time in temporary immigration detention centers, and their transition to life with their brother.

Many important topics are covered, incl
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My father was an immigrant and I spent my career teaching immigrant children from all over the world. I thought I understood the difficulties of families leaving their homes and and culture behind. But, we have entered a whole new reality with children traveling alone and entering a very hostile country. The author is an Oakland teacher (my home) who wrote about 2 of her students. Although she changed names and identities to protect them, she told their stories in great detail. As teenagers, liv ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A true story of 17-year-old identical twin brothers who leave El Salvador and come to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors. It follows the boys as they navigate the system and establish a life in the U.S. as well as that of their brother, who had come before, and their family back in El Salvador. We learn about the challenges of being an undocumented minor, the immigration system, making the trip to the U.S., struggles adjusting to life, challenges of fulfilling obligations back home as well as the ...more
Gordon Jack
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book, like Sonia Nazario's Enrique's Journey offers an up close and personal account of what young immigrants go through to reach the United States. Unlike Enrique's Journey though, Markham spends almost as much time with the family that gets left in El Salvador as she does with the twin migrant brothers. The result is a more comprehensive picture of the gains and losses on embarking on the journey to El Norte. With incredible detail and empathy, Markham lets you see the pain and suffering, ...more
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