Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When I Walk Through That Door, I Am: An Immigrant Mother's Quest” as Want to Read:
When I Walk Through That Door, I Am: An Immigrant Mother's Quest
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When I Walk Through That Door, I Am: An Immigrant Mother's Quest

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Poet-activist Jimmy Baca immerses the reader in an epic narrative poem, imagining the experience of motherhood in the context of immigration, family separation, and ICE raids on the Southern border.

Jimmy Santiago Baca makes the immigration crisis painfully personal in this new interpretation of the Epic Poem. While it may feel safest to take a step back when the government
Paperback, 88 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Beacon Press
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 When I Walk Through That Door, I Am, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When I Walk Through That Door, I Am

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  133 ratings  ·  36 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of When I Walk Through That Door, I Am: An Immigrant Mother's Quest
Diane S ☔
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
I watched a show, Frontline, on PBS last week. It was about Long Island, and the El Salvadorian gangs that are creating terror in the hearts of many. Murder by machete being their game of choice. The Mayor has vowed to rid the city of these gangs doing whatever it takes. Apparently there is a large El Salvadorian community, and all of them are not gang members. In fact many of them are young, yes probably illegal young men trying to get an education, but regardless they are being picked up by ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free through LibraryThings Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

This was a very powerful narrative poem that deals with immigration into the U.S. from South America.

I love narrative poems. I think they are such a creative way to tell a story and it worked well for this particular story and message The author really put you into the main characters head and you got to know her thoughts and feelings in an intimate way. There are just some things you can do in
Jon Nakapalau
Heartbreaking look at what a mother must endure as she tries to make a better life for herself and her son after her husband is murdered - powerful and timely.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A narrative poem that gives heart and soul to the refugee crisis that no sterile headline or soundbite can. Baca creates the journey of Sophia, a Salvadorean woman who comes to America only to be separated from her child and imprisoned. Part II of the book tells of Baca's inspiration for this poem by describing his own experience of sponsoring a refugee and his family from Burma/Myanmar. A slim but mighty volume.
Bernie Gourley
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a narrative poem telling the story of an El Salvadoran woman who is separated from her child after illegally immigrating to the United States. Its quite a timely topic, but as a work of literature and a call to arms it could have done much better.

This poetic novella is gripping to read, but is over-the-top in spots, and that does it a disservice in two ways. First of all, it takes the reader out of the story as they may become lost in the disbelief. Secondly, it takes a work that could
Adriana Martinez Figueroa
Half fiction, half real life situations, we follow the life of Sophia, a Salvadorian immigrant fleeing with her son after her husbands violent death. It reads like an epic Greek tragedy, with Santiago Bacas repetition showcasing the protagonists resilience in the face of constant gendered violence. The stones and dirt witness, Santiago Baca writes, forcing us to bear witness too, for who else will when a brown woman is constantly being put down and terrorized. Lay on us, we will absorb your ...more
Carol Tilley
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
As another reviewer noted, there are some over-the-top moments, but there is also a pure, lyrical core here.
(Read via digital galley provided by the publisher through Edelweiss)
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2020
The poem written by Baca does a great job in creating the whole picture in front of your eyes, how an immigrant mother who lost his husband recently survives and spends the days in search of her kid. The woman talks about her journey, being raped and assaulted by different sets of poeple but still she has her eye on the upcoming peace. She has a hope that one day, everything will be alright. She doesnt want her dreams to be ruined because of all the violence, she believes that no one can define ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lyrics for our times, from a master of the poetry of witness.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Profound and beautiful.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This narrative is so rich and hopeful despite the pain and horror experienced by the speaker. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard.
Katrina Guarascio
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This is a wonderful narrative poem about an immigrant's experience. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking. It reminds me of another poetry collection called The Language of Crossing by Liza Wolff Frances. If you are interested in the immigrant experience, I recommend checking out both.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
We follow an immigrant mother (like the title literally already says) from the moment her husband is shot to the time she finally gets something like freedom. Theres one major thing that needs to be said about this: its really difficult to read. The sentences are just.. so long. The formatting was also quite weird. But if you get over that, it is a really good read.

It is very relevant, and recalls some moments that most of us will probably remember (i.e., the president visiting a detainment
Alyssa Nelson
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThings Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.*

TW: violence, death, rape,

This is a heart-wrenching epic poem of a mother who finds herself desperate to find a safe place for her child, so risks crossing the border to the US to keep her son from being killed by gangs. Its a raw, honest look at the conditions people have to go through in the current situation to escape a life and death situation.

Bacas imagery is
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Haunting, powerful poetry that will make you angry and hopeful in equal measure. This timely long-form poem should be required reading for all those in American politics, news or commentary.

TRIGGER WARNING: graphic depictions of rape, murder, suicide, and child seperation.
* Copy recieved via publisher *
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This slim volume of gorgeous lyric poetry brings to life a young immigrant woman whose husband is murdered in San Salvador and her three-year-old son is separated from her by the Trump regime. This should be required reading for everyone writing immigration policy. Read it now.
Krystal Linn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Too often, what gets left out of our current discussion about immigration is why are so many people fleeing their countries and what do they find when they come to America. Thankfully, there are many books and news articles out there that talk about these very things, but the benefit of this book is that it uses the power of narrative poetry to convey the trials that Central American refugees are enduring in this country today.

Following the death of her husband by gang members in El Salvador,
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This epic poem--it's certainly not as long as the term implies--lets Sophia tell her story. As far as I can tell Sophia is wholly fictional. There is no mention if this story is built on the experiences of one woman, or many interviewed women, or if Sophia is not based on personal research. Baca is an American man of Latino and Native descent.

Sophia, her husband, and their son were living happily in El Salvador until a gang murdered her husband for not paying them half his paycheck for
Jennifer Collins
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
On the back of this work, there's a quote from Richard Blanco which perfectly sums up why this book is so important, and why it is so timely and painful: "Jimmy Baca's new book brilliantly reimagines the epic poem--and reshapes the epic hero as a young immigrant woman struggling to escape violence and find the child that has been taken away from her. A work that speaks strikingly and passionately of our times."

This epic poem is indeed both brilliant and brutal, and I'm not sure any reader can
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
At the fence on another morning
I am startled and shriek a serrated cry
and other women rush out, thinking
the worstI had broken a bone, been shot,
but instead, what happened, a hawk
landed on the fence bar
perched a few feet from my face
and studied me for minutes
a moment with no beginning or end,
an infinite meeting of two travelers;
in the hawk's eyes all it had seen
desert, forest, seas, fields, cliffs,
and because when I was a child I lived in the rainforest
bathed myself in mud-pits used by Huichol
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
**Goodreads giveaway recipient**

I did love the message of this short epic poem (or long poetic story)it is an eye-opening, heartrending plea to see others as fellow sojourners and to help one another (especially our immigrants) when and where we can.

However...Im not overly fond of men writing with a female protagonist voice. It CAN be done well, but oftentimes, male authors will emote too much into their female characters.

In Bacas story, his vivid word picture metaphors were beautiful and
Anthony Camacho
A lot of the time I hear the news and Im constantly drained. To hear stories about innocent people being kept in prisons and children left in cages. This list of injustices can overwhelm you.

This narrative poem is human & beautiful and Im not sure how else to describe it.

Baca writes in the end of his authors note about his experiences with the immigrant community as an activist. The power of human connection and compassion is highlighted in such a poetic way.

*This is probably as of now my
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I like this. The writing is good, even moving in parts. He exposes the vulnerabilities of people as refugees and undocumented immigrants: from their homelands, on their journeys, and on their entrance to America. The narrative poem centers on a Salvadoran family. But the author also writes a note at the end about his own experiences with immigrants and refugees, especially about his relationship with a family from Burma.

Enne (they/he)
3.5 stars

Im still trying to find my footing when it comes to poetry and this was my first narrative poem and I feel like this is definitely a me-problem and not a this-book-problem. I feel like the plot of this story didnt really go anywhere and in general, I didnt end up having very many thoughts on this book, since it was part of a genre Im so new to. That said, it was a quick read and I did really love the writing style, so I would definitely recommend it!
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Very timely, well done. A really long author's note, longer than I see in most poetry collections, but it works well. I enjoyed the character-building and plot commitment in this.Though the "I am Che" line made me uncomfortable. You're a mass murderer? Alrighty then...the other comparisons were better.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book-length poem about an immigrant mother's search for a new and safe home. It's a sad and tragic story, the feelings and emotions enhanced by the poetic skills of Baca who, we know from his earlier work, can empathize with others in his writings.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poignant. Timely. A necessary read for today's time. All I can say is that I am left wanting more. A gut check of a book that, by its nature, screams for action. Read this book.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5* favorite parts were the imaginings of the walk to the child through the country and part 2.
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful narrative poem.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • How to Love a Country
  • An American Sunrise
  • The Tradition
  • The Woman I Kept to Myself
  • Puerto Rico Strong
  • Miracle's Boys
  • Homie
  • Woven in Moonlight (Woven in Moonlight, #1)
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  • His Truth Is Marching on: John Lewis and the Power of Hope
  • This Is My America
  • Antiracist Baby
  • Dearly: New Poems
  • The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn't, and Get Stuff Done
  • Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
  • Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic
  • Clap When You Land
  • Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains
See similar books…
Jimmy Santiago Baca of Apache and Chicano descent is an American poet and writer.

Related Articles

This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning communities—we...
198 likes · 73 comments
“They come giving, not taking. They create community. They believe in justice. They seek peace. How much more simple can that get for our muddle-brained minions who create insane immigration policies? Refugees enrich, not deplete, they imagine and create places, not impose inglorious eyesores on our landscapes, they welcome not spurn, they feed not starve, they work not cheat, they earn not take. They come to repair our democracy, to lay the patient on the table and carefully apply the sutures, cut out the cancer of cynicism and sew up the wound, disinfect and pray over the wound, attend to the patient, feed it, lift its head and give it water and sing to it and keep it warm and safe, even as the patient screams and swings wildly at them with knives and guns, drags them away in maddened fits of rage, and locks them in dark dungeons or in cages and starves and beats them and even rapes them, they wait patiently, hoping for a time when the patient tires and returns to its sanity.” 0 likes
More quotes…