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Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  8,496 ratings  ·  1,270 reviews
Structured around the forty questions Luiselli translates and asks undocumented Latin-American children facing deportation, Tell Me How It Ends (an expansion of her 2016 Freeman's essay of the same name) humanizes these young migrants and highlights the contradiction of the idea of America as a fiction for immigrants with the reality of racism and fear both here and back h ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Coffee House Press (first published 2016)
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Steph Personally, I think it would be a perfect read for 8th graders. The language is clear and concise without being over-dramatic, obscene, or graphic in …morePersonally, I think it would be a perfect read for 8th graders. The language is clear and concise without being over-dramatic, obscene, or graphic in nature. It brings an entirely new understanding of what it means to be undocumented in america, and sheds light on the experiences of these children and families.(less)
Nils As a user, you can't, unless you create(d) the entry. 'Librarians' ought to be able to (a specific user role) but I'm not sure how to become one: "Goo…moreAs a user, you can't, unless you create(d) the entry. 'Librarians' ought to be able to (a specific user role) but I'm not sure how to become one: "Goodreads Librarians are volunteers who have applied for and received librarian status on Goodreads."

Check out the Librarians Group perhaps, for more info https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...(less)

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Adam Dalva
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sharp, short essay that shines a light on how America treats undocumented children. Luiselli, who's an excellent writer (though emotion veers in and out of this piece in unusual cadence), has worked in the federal immigration system as a translator and cannily structures the essay around the 40 questions that she asked children when trying to pair them with a lawyer. The goal is less about making an argument and more about trying to re-shift the grounds of discussion by breaking down the dangers ...more
Thomas
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An unsentimental yet compassionate book that centers the ongoing plight of Latin American child migrants in the United States. Valeria Luiselli uses her role as a translator for these children to explore the many misconceptions people have about them (e.g., they’re rapists or drug dealers) and reflect their truer lived experiences (e.g., they’re fleeing from immense hardship, poverty, pain and suffering). When these kids come into the United States, they still encounter such hardship and racism, ...more
Carrie
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-favorites
“It is perhaps not the American Dream they pursue, but rather the more modest aspiration to wake up from the nightmare into which they were born."

I wish I could force every person who chants "build a wall" or asks "why can't they just come here legally" to read this book. The 40 questions from the title are those Luiselli asks of detained children as a volunteer interpreter in federal immigration courts, and she uses this structure to give a concise, impassioned plea for us to recognize these ch
...more
Rincey
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The children who cross the Mexico border and arrive at the U.S. border are not "immigrants," not "illegals," not merely "undocumented minors." Those children are refugees of a war, and, as such, they should all have the right to asylum. But not all of them have it.

Tell me how it ends, Mamma, my daughter asks me.

I don't know.

Tell me what happens next.

Sometimes I make up an ending, a happy one. But most of the time I just say: I don't know how it ends yet.


Watch me discuss it more in my reading v
...more
jenni
i'm such a Valeria Luiselli fangirl. her prose is like honey on the tongue, it's sweet and syrupy and sticky, it's like a pantry good, some delicacy to always have in supply. it's a gift that as readers we are blessed to even have received. i'm serious. i'm a fangirl.

unlike her novels, but also very much like her novels, this piece is afforded a considerable amount of brutality in its reading simply based off subject matter. not only is it concerned with our truly systemic horror show of an immi
...more
Paul Fulcher
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
The children’s stories are always shuffled, stuttered, always shattered beyond the repair of a narrative order. The problem with trying to tell their story is that it has no beginning, no middle, and no end.

In 2014, Valeria Luiselli, started writing a novel about the children seeking asylum in the US, and their treatment, including inhumane detention and deportation, by the Obama-administration immigration system, in particular the priority juvenile docket that gave those summoned by court just
...more
Daniel Chaikin
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it


This is what I posted on Litsy about an hour ago:
"It‘s only now, thinking about it, that I begin to feel this book‘s relentless empty chill. American cruelty knows no bounds once it‘s legalized. Here the emotional shocks of how we treat these unaccompanied child refugees come so quickly in this little book that it‘s almost not possible to process while reading, or even at all. What they go through, in the many thousands...the little cruel window Luiselli witnessed...what can you say?"
I finished
...more
shakespeareandspice
Review originally posted on A Skeptical Reader.

In Tell Me How It Ends, Valeria Luiselli takes us through the process of reviewing undocumented children stuck in a limbo of red tapes. The book gives us a glimpse of the treacherous journey these children make when crossing the southern borders of the United States. And no, they are not rapists or drug dealers. They are victims of violence and the world needs to start recognizing them as such.

It begins with a very structured form of storytelling. I
...more
Eric Anderson
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This short and powerful nonfiction piece by Valeria Luiselli is such a poignantly constructed insight into the immigration crisis/debate in America now. Luiselli relates her experiences working as a volunteer interviewing thousands of children from Central America who have been smuggled into the United States and are seeking residency/citizenship. She asks them questions from an intake questionnaire created by immigration lawyers that will play a large part in determining if the children will be ...more
Julie Ehlers
In this brief book that takes place during the Obama administration, novelist Valeria Luiselli recounts her experience volunteering as a translator/interpreter for refugee children in NYC immigration court. Tell Me How It Ends is one of those books that doesn't need a long summary or analysis, or at least I don't feel the need to provide one. Unless you already know a lot about this topic, you should read this book. The information it imparts is information everyone should have.
Michael Livingston
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An utterly heartbreaking essay about refugee children heading into the USA from Central America. Luiselli worked as an interpreter at a NY court hearing applications to be allowed to stay and she structures this powerful essay around the 40 question intake interview the kids have to answer. It's almost incomprehensibly dreadful - the failures of domestic and international policy that have led us here are complex and many, but the fundamental inhumanity of our systems is on full display here. Unb ...more
Julie Christine
Shattering and vital.

"Numbers and maps tell horror stories, but the stories of deepest horror are perhaps those for which there are no numbers, no maps, no possible accountability, no words ever written or spoken, And perhaps the only way to grant any justice—were that even possible— is by hearing and recording those stories over and over again, so that they come back, always to haunt and shame us. Because being aware of what is happening in our era and choosing to do nothing about it has becom
...more
Gumble's Yard
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Re-read after Lost Children Archive’s longlisting for the 2019 Booker Prize.

“Why did you come to the United States”. That’s the first question on the intake questionnaire for unaccompanied child migrants. The questionnaire is used in the federal immigration court in New York City where I started working as a volunteer interpreter in 2015. My task there is a simple one: I interview children, following the intake questionnaire, and then translate their stories from Spanish to English.


A short
...more
G.
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's no banal sentimentality here. There is only compassion. Only humanity. And that is what makes this essay even more devastating. The fact that it's perhaps even more relevant in 2020 reflects poorly on us all.
jeremy
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
with gifted prose and a compassionate, but penetrating gaze, luiselli personalizes the ongoing plight of latin american child migrants in the united states. her own immersion as a translator informs a trenchant first-hand account of the labyrinthine legal processes and inevitable bureaucratic indifference faced by undocumented youth. humane yet often horrifying, tell me how it ends offers a compelling, intimate look at a continuing crisis – and its ongoing cost in an age of increasing urgency.
...more
Vipassana
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
And perhaps the only way to grant any justice—were that even possible—is by hearing and recording those stories over and over again so that they come back, always, to haunt and shame us. Because being aware of what is happening in our era and choosing to do nothing about it has become unacceptable. Because we cannot allow ourselves to go on normalizing horror and violence. Because we can all be held accountable if something happens under our noses and we don’t dare even look.


The asylum seeke
...more
Isabel
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
“Because-how do you explain that it is never inspiration that drives you to tell a story, but rather a combination of anger and clarity? How do you say: No, we do not find inspiration here, but we find a country that is as beautiful as it is broken, and we are somehow now part of it, so we are also broken with it, and feel ashamed, confused, and sometimes hopeless, and are trying to figure out how to do something about all that.”
Kayle
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Important information, didn't care for the execution or organization, but still worth reading for an illuminating, if heartbreaking primer on our broken immigration system as it relates to the least of these.
Ellie
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very strong, moving book about the refugee crisis here in the United States. Luiselli makes it clear that it is not an "immigration" crisis but a refugee one, children fleeing from horrific conditions that the U.S. played a part in creating.

The book is built around a questionnaire that she did with the children in New York City volunteering as a translator. The picture that arises is that of traumatized children, lost, torn between two worlds. I had no idea of the extent of the dangers these c
...more
Kathleen
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
My review for the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty...

So much of the appeal of truly brilliant creative writing can be explained by the saying, "It's not what you say, but how you say it," and the way that Valeria Luiselli says what she has to say in her latest publication, the book-length essay, "Tell Me How It Ends," is simultaneously dazzling and apt.

Subtitled "An Essay in Forty Questions," the book looks at an all too familiar and troubling topic in an utterly fresh yet
...more
RuthAnn
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
READ THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY

This account has reframed the immigration crisis so succinctly and searingly that it is impossible to ignore. I feel stunned, like when I read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. I appreciate this book as a short (100 pages) reflection from a "regular" citizen whose volunteerism ignited activisim. Valeria is all of us, and any of us can be Valeria. I don't know what to do yet, but now I see starkly that something needs to be done. We all h
...more
Traci at The Stacks
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book holds up 2 years later and will (most likely) hold up in 10. Luiselli is such a fantastic writer. She weaves lots of pieces tighter pretty seamlessly. USA is so backward when it comes to immigration this book is infuriating.
Ylenia
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5

I feel like this essay goes hand in hand with her most recent novel, Lost Children Archive. I read this only after her novel & I was surprised by how much of her life story she put into the novel.
I already said multiple times that Luiselli has an incredible talent with words & it's no surprise she managed to convey her point in this short essay in such a brilliant way. Tell Me How It Ends it's an extremely timely book.
...more
Basic B's Guide
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
American Dirt is a fictionalized migrant story but let us NOT forget that is in fact a huge reality in our world. I was deeply affected by American Dirt and truly appreciate that it led me to some soul searching and a further expansion of my understanding and empathy.

While reading Dirt I kept asking myself “What happens to the people without money or luck, as Lydia and her son had?” Lydia’s situation seemed horrific yet still unrealistic and too tidy. Is this really a true representation? Absolu
...more
Emily
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read this year.
Should be required reading EVERYWHERE!
Stacia
Required reading for those in the Americas, imo. It actually deals more with the time/policies under Obama, but also gets into our current administration a bit too. An issue that becomes more critical by the day.

Her book made me think, made me cry, & even made me have a tiny, tiny bit of hope. I have always said I have faith in the younger generation to step up & do the right thing, to solve too many problems they are inheriting, & this book gives just one small example.

Just wow.

This would als
...more
Fionnuala
Mar 19, 2020 added it
Shelves: covid-times
Perfect companion to Lost Children Archive. ...more
Jana
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jana by: Emily
I pass along this message: Everyone should read this book.

These are things going on right now in the US regarding the treatment of undocumented children. It breaks my heart. I don't know what to do, but one thing we must NOT do is look away.

Her more in depth explanation of the root of this problem towards the end of the (very short) book was eye opening for me.

p.30
Perhaps the only way to grant any justice - were that even possible - is by hearing and recording those stories over and over again
...more
Vivek Tejuja
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some books leave an impact that lasts forever. Tell Me How It Ends is one such book. A book about migrant children – children who have crossed into the border of United States of America illegally from these three countries – Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. And why so many children migrated to the US of A between 2014 and perhaps continue to till today? Well, the reasons were simple – to escape gang violence of their countries, to escape poverty, and to flee abuse from their own families o ...more
Paloma
Review in English | Reseña en Español
"Telling stories doesn't solve anything, doesn't reassemble broken lives. But perhaps it is a way of understanding the unthinkable."

I had heard a lot of praise for the author, Valeria Luiselli and I was really interested to read something from her, considering she is Mexican and writes both in English and Spanish. Therefore I started with one of her most appreciated works, this short essay in which she reflects upon immigration and children based on her exper
...more
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Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her novels and essays have been translated into many languages and her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010; ...more

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“And perhaps the only way to grant any justice—were that even possible—is by hearing and recording those stories over and over again so that they come back, always, to haunt and shame us. Because being aware of what is happening in our era and choosing to do nothing about it has become unacceptable. Because we cannot allow ourselves to go on normalizing horror and violence. Because we can all be held accountable if something happens under our noses and we don’t dare even look.” 15 likes
“Because—how do you explain that it is never inspiration that drives you to tell a story, but rather a combination of anger and clarity? How do you say: No, we do not find inspiration here, but we find a country that is as beautiful as it is broken, and we are somehow now part of it, so we are also broken with it, and feel ashamed, confused, and sometimes hopeless, and are trying to figure out how to do something about all that.” 14 likes
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