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Separated by the Border: A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child's 3,000-Mile Journey

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  80 reviews
In 2017 five-year-old Julia traveled with her mother, Guadalupe, from Honduras to the United States. Her harrowing journey took her through Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. Then she was separated from her mother, who was held hostage by smugglers who exploited her physically and financially. At the United States border, Julia was put in detention as an una ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by IVP Books (first published October 18th 2019)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  273 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a narrative about the lives of two families one from Honduras and the other the United States. It looks at the costs of one immigrant women, her daughter and her family she made the decision to come to the United States with her daughter, and make the dangerous trip out of desperation. It is not a pretty story, but it is a story of redemption for both families. In many ways it is a story that reflects many of the experiences immigrants face in the decision to migrate to a safer place in ...more
Timothy Paulson
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Not only was it a powerful and heart-wrenching story of a mother's love, the realities of sacrificial cross-cultural love, and the horrors of family separation -- it was also a thought-provoking read that forced me to ask some hard questions.

What does it mean to be among the most privileged in the world (white, Christian, wealthy, secure), living in a time of great need? How does my faith intersect with the political and humanitarian realities that others face, who o
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the interwoven story of Gena, Lupe, and Julia. It is a hard and beautiful story. Our immigration system is broken and reading this book helps shed a light on those challenges. The book brings you into the desperation of family separation. Gena is amazing at identifying and being honest about her own inherent bias and mindsets throughout her life journey. Her perspective is refreshing, open, and told from a space of humility.

She writes, “When we learn about history and we hear stories of
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This really is an important read for people who are on any side of the immigration debate. I feel like the best way to summarize the book is lament. Gena does a wonderful job narrating her journey as well as Lupes and Julia’s even though it is a mournful journey almost the whole step of the way. Lamenting the pain, injustice, and heartache for two mothers caught in a painful situation. But this book also does justice for their story- sharing with a larger audience the human side of immigration a ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me understand why and how our immigration system is so broken, and did it through the deeply personal, gut-wrenching, and inspiring story of a mother and her daughter. This is a must-read for our time. Beautifully written and educational, shocking and sadly true, with an ending that leaves you hopeful and with all the right questions.
Gena Thomas
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: 2019-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Gilliland
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written, powerful, and needed story for everyone. We cannot hide from the immigration issues that are occurring in the United States. Author Gena Thomas helps us remember that there are real people behind the headlines that we see on the news. Separated by the Border is a prophetic book not only when it comes to immigration but also on the importance of foster care. A stunning memoir, this is a must read.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Separated by the Border is a beautiful narrative that highlights a intense personal struggle related to a massive political agenda. Gena, Andrew, and Lupe’s ability to rely on God and trust Him with such insurmountable faith in the midst of trauma and crisis speaks to the hope we can find in our belief as Christians. The strength and faith of the mothers discussed in this book are a blessing and inspiration. May all mothers be as motivated for humanity and love.
Chase Andre
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought I understood the plight of migrants crossing the U.S. border — this book showed me how little I knew. I thought I understood the complexities of the foster system — this book showed me how little I knew.

If you want your world expanded, heart broken, and hope restored, "Separated by the Border" is a must-read. While migration at the southern U.S. border is still making headlines, this book offers a true-to-life account of two families united through one unaccompanied minor.

Part memoir
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley

A book for our times that pulls no punches when describing the tragedies that lie in the past with respect to the Refugee question and in the present for those wanting to lead a better life. All on hold at the border!
But it's the children and their families who are suffering. Thomas' book calls us to "walk a mile" in their shoes and ask the hard questions.
Driven by need and fear, this is the personal story of some whose bright hopes became dark dreams.
Hard to read, hard to come to term
Jonathan Puddle
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, painful, eye opening and life changing.
Bud Winderweedle
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gena tells a beautiful and painful true story in Separated by the Border. While this text could certainly qualify as a lament, it is not bereft of hope. One would not blame anyone who experiences the horror described in the book for forsaking God and hope altogether. And yet the heroines in this tale never give up, offering their pain and lament to God along the way.

Also, the reader is not left holding a bag of emotions. Gena includes a helpful section on what we all can do in light of the infor
Brandi Jordan
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finally, some humanity in the great immigration debate. I think many people when asked would say that they have some concept of what's going on at the border and beyond (in reference to immigration policies and implementation). I think this book goes a long way in showing us just how little we know about the true plight of people - real humans - who are looking for safety at the edge of a hostile border.

Everyone should read this. We all need this sort of conviction in our often, all too easy li
Grace Humbles
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been incredibly saddened by the humanitarian crisis at the US Southern border for quite a while, but this book opened my eyes to how little I truly knew about the lives of our neighbors who sacrifice to cross the border.

This book is an interesting mix of memoir, narrative, and research-informed discussion on the complex realities (and history) involved in our ongoing border crisis. The mix of forms works well together and provides multiple layers of access into the stories of Julia, Lupe, G
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It can be difficult to get a feeling for the issues facing our world when we see the news, but this book uses storytelling to make political issues feel more personal and does so beautifully. I learned a lot reading this book while remaining engaged as I followed the tales of two mothers whose stories were intertwined by love for a child. Fascinating read.
Aretha Grant
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
PLEASE read this book. This book is AMAZING. Lupe’s and Julia’s story keeps you on the edge of your seat. I experienced so many emotions while reading it and need to know more about them. In addition, Gena pulls back the curtain on her own life, feelings, and thoughts. She shares her pain, doubts, fears, and shortcomings. I’m so glad I read Separated by the Border and will encourage all my family and friends to read it as well.
Lesa Engelthaler
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible, at times painfully raw, page-turner about two mothers from different worlds who found each other because of one scrappy migrant girl. It is also packed with tons of “I never knew that” helpful facts about immigration and foster care. But, ultimately it is a picture of the undaunted mother love of God. The kind of God who, “sees beauty in the places we’re scared of, in the people we’d rather not talk to, in the middle of messes we rather shy away from.”

Thomas writes that she hopes
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked up my copy of Gena Thomas’ Separated By the Border on the way to my nephew’s fourth birthday party. As he tore open his gifts, his parents gently (and not so gently) admonished his siblings and cousins that the presents were his possessions, owned by him. When they tried to touch or help him with his gifts, he grabbed them out of their hands and emphatically declared, “Mine!” From the time we are born our Western individualist and consumerist values are inculcated into our psyche, intro ...more
Justin Lonas
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simultaneously a tender memoir and a bold call for justice for the immigrant the oppressed and the orphan.

Proud of my friend Gena and her courage and vulnerability in sharing this story.
Ryan Kuja
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gena Thomas is a master in the art of storytelling and Separated by the Border is the canvas on which she creates a masterpiece. But reader be warned--this work of art is as haunting as it is beautiful. It unsettles and disrupts as all truly great art does.

Encountering the story of Gena, Julia, and Lupe places the reader at the pointed center of the terror and the hope that in tandem compel many Latin Americans to seek safety from violence, poverty, and oppression in the United States. We often
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is deeply challenging. What drives a mother to risk everything and bring her child to an unknown country? What happens when that mother and child are separated? How can we as Christians love those who are stretched to the point of desperation? This is the story of Lupe, Julia and Gena. It’s a hard, painful, heartbreaking story. It’s a beautiful and hopeful story as well. Lupe was attempting to come to the U.S. with her daughter, Julia. After braving the dangers of their home country an ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book while my own three year old daughter climbed on me and played without a care in the world. The juxtaposition of my daughters life and Julia’s makes my heart ache.
Gena’s book is compelling and incredibly thought provoking. The care and caution she’s taken to tell Lupe and Julia’s story is so apparent. This is a book everyone needs to read if you’ve ever experienced the pang of sadness and helplessness that comes with hearing about the United States crisis at the southern border.
Marvia Davidson
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you come to a book with preconceived notion‘s. I’m just gonna tell you now, whatever preconceived notions you have about immigration, the border, foster care, and what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus - leave them at the front page. This book will challenge and change the way you think about all of these things. I enjoyed reading Gena’s book as it is a powerful story of love, reunification, the saddening and infuriating things that happen to our brothers and sisters who are s ...more
Storm Remmenga
Sep 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I thought I might rate this 4 stars because of the constant references to God and Christianity, but that is Gena’s truth. This book isn’t my truth, but it is true. I am so grateful for this story. For its ability to shed light on this truth for many that I, a white American woman, was privileged not to know about. The rape, the beatings. The dehumanizing language we use to talk about migrants. This book was hard to read in that every page was a truth I cannot unsee. I hope to be a voice, if noth ...more
John Mark
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this powerful work down as I recently journeyed through Honduras, incredibly moved by the real-to-life human stories so often politicized in today's polarizing climate. Rising above this noise, Gena Thomas gently teaches what it means to live and lean into complexity; to discover the face of Christ on the margins; to see your own story of flourishing as somehow inextricably bound up with the least of these.

In this humbly told masterpiece, flavorful writing and poetry take on toug
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing

This is a book that every white American needs to read.

Separated by the Border was awarded to me through GoodReads giveaways. It was one of the very first books that I entered to win, and so far, the only I have ever won. I was grateful for the extras that were included too: it was a very nice touch and I want to give thanks to the publishing company. I had an advance copy and I knew I wanted to write a review for it. A book like this deserves a review, and I felt that I was in a unique position
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and eye-opening, this true story is a must read for every American. This book puts human faces to the immigration crisis we hear about in the news. Not only that, it shines a light on the issues in all aspects of immigration, including why people make a choice to leave their homes and the risks they face. This book also addresses foster care and the reunification of families. Reading this story opened my eyes and led me to a better perspective on the issues and how we can do better ...more
Tiffany Meador
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Ultimately my hope in telling this story is for you to see the deep love of Christ through the love of this beautiful migrant mother.”

Gena Thomas shares Lupe’s story and her difficult decision to migrate north in order to afford medicine for her sick grandfather and food and shelter for the rest of her family. This is a story of desperation, separation, emotional and physical trauma, reunification, and the beginning of healing. As Elie Weisel once said, “Let us remember: what hurts the victim
TJ McCloud
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't want to read this book. I've spent much of my life working in Central America, and I thought I knew it all. I thought I knew the pressures and insanity that face asylum seekers and Central American immigrants pretty well. But, as Gena Thomas carefully and lovingly paints the unforgettable story of Guadelupe and little Julia, my heart broke open once again, seeing the invisible reality of immigration on our southern border. In vivid prose, author Gena Thomas illuminates the horrific trag ...more
Michelle Kidwell
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Separated by the Border
A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child’s 3,000-Mile Journey

by Gena Thomas
InterVarsity Press
IVP Books

Christian , Religion & Spirituality
Pub Date 29 Oct 2019

I am reviewing a copy of Separated by the Border through Intervarsity Press and Netgalley:

In 2017 five year old Guadalupe traveled from Honduras to America with her Mother. The harrowing journey took her from Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer. She was then separated from her Mother. she had b
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Gena Thomas is a writer, a faith wrestler, a wife, and a mom. She and her husband, Andrew, have been married for 12 years and they have two children. Gena works as an instructional designer at a nonprofit that equips local churches in the area of holistic development. She has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and in USA Today, Christianity Today among other publications. She published her fir ...more

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