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Santiago's Road Home

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A young boy gets detained by ICE while crossing the border from Mexico to the United States in this timely and unflinching novel by award-winning author Alexandra Diaz.

The bed creaks under Santiago’s shivering body. They say a person’s life flashes by before dying. But it’s not his whole life. Just the events that led to this. The important ones, and the ones Santiago woul
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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This is a very solid middlegrade introduction to immigration. I especially thought it had a good balance: while it doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of Santiago's life at all, there was also room for hope and love in the form of Santiago's found family. And Santiago as a main character just really stole my heart. The author's note accompanying this is essential reading if you read the book, by the way. ...more
Shaye Miller
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This storyline is similar to We Are Not From Here, but not quite as horrific. Award-winning author Alexandra Diaz shares the story of Santiago, a young boy who has been physically abused by his abuela and then is passed around between relatives who do not want him. One day he’s sent away from yet another family member with just enough money for a bus fare back to abuela’s house. Hungry, lonely, and with only what he has on his back, Santiago strikes up an unlikely conversation with a mother and ...more
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Check out the full review on my website. CLICK HERE



DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Simon And Schuster for the ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Santiago's Road Home is a heart wrenching realistic portrayal of several people who get caught at the Mexican-US border. The story helps us understand the struggles and extreme poverty the families are trying to escape. With hopes of new life and dreams of making decent money to support
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

CW: child abuse

Santiago's Road Home is an emotional story about family, dreams, and love. Santiago is such a precious character who is empathetic, caring, and clever. I don't have many words for this fantastic book. It's every part of this emotional roller coaster that left me tense until the very end. There are moments of such joy, wonder, and sadness all wrapped into one. It's not
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Santiago has been kicked out of his aunt and uncle's home in Mexico. They've sent him away with a little money to take a bus back to his grandmothers home. But his grandmother physically abused him, and she was the reason he had lived with so many relatives until they couldn't afford to feed him any more.

So when Santiago meets a María Dolores and her 5-year-old daughter, Alegría, on their way to cross the border for a better life, he decides to join them. They have to trust one another, and it
Bernadette Kearns
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to for the free audiobook version of this book.

As she did in The Only Road, the author tells a compelling story of a young boy—Santiago—in his quest to immigrate to the United States. This backstory of this character is that his mother died in an accident when he was very young and he’s been passed from one relative to the next being horribly mistreated. On his worst day, he meets a young woman and her daughter and together they decide to attempt to cross into the US via a co
Joy Kirr
I got through 34% of it, according to my audio book app. I’m not invested enough in the characters to continue, plus, Santiago has had a TON of luck on his trip already. I read ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY this year, and it seems it would not be so easy for Santiago (although I know everyone must have a different experience). I just wasn’t invested in the characters enough to want to know what’s going to happen to them - AND - with all the stuff that’s happening in the US today, Santiago might be better of ...more
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
A young refugee overcomes tremendous obstacles to cross the border from Mexico into the United States, only to be trapped in a detention center. Diaz sketches a frank, brief account of refugee youth in an uncaring bureaucratic system, where hope comes in glimpses and family separation becomes the norm.
Wendy Thomas
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, what a tough read. Besides being an extremely important book, it's well-written with heartbreaking characters and a well-developed story. Such an emotionally impactful book. ...more
Jovita Mae
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
I recommend this book to anyone that would like to better understand the heart breaking challenges and experiences immigrants experience trying to get to this country and start a new life in the United States.

Chari Regina
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher, this is my honest review.

Santiago's Road Home is a heart-wrenching and hopeful story of a 12 year old boy and his journey to immigrate to the United States. This book is listed as a children's book, I would recommend it for middle age and above as there are some heavy themes in the book that might be upsetting for younger children.

This book will help American children gain understanding and compassion for the struggles that others may
Stephanie Tournas
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
 Set on the Mexico/U.S. border in the present, this story presents a compelling and believable look at why people try to cross the border. Santiago is a gentle soul whom no one wants. His grandmother inexplicably hates him and is physically abusive. His parents are dead. His aunt, whose children he was caring for, no longer wants him there. He has never been sent to school and cannot read or write. But Santiago has faith in the future, and decides to find a way to get to El Norte on his own. He ...more
Richie Partington
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: SANTIAGO’S ROAD HOME by Alexandra Diaz, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, May 2020, 336p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-4623-6

“‘Why do they separate us?’
‘Because they can.’”

“I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released”
-- Bob Dylan (1967)

“The Trump administration has admitted to separating an additional 1,500 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border under its ‘zero tolerance’ family separation policy, according to the America


This story is gut wrenching, gripping and so powerful! It got me emotional and made me tear up. “Santiago’s Road Home” is a wonderful tale of hope and survival. As you read it, you visualize countless people like Santiago who still struggle to reunite with their loved ones.

I honestly feel this is one of those books that a person of any age group would appreciate (and not restrict it to middle grade). The story highlights
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
The most compelling (and heartbreaking) part of this book is when 12-year-old Santiago finds himself in a detention facility near the border. Most of us know by now that the conditions in these facilities are terrible, but the author really drives home the catastrophic impact of the family separation policy. That it’s such an unnecessary hardship makes it all the more terrible. Details that will remain with me: An immigration lawyer brings her client’s breastmilk to the client’s baby because she ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think that everyone should have to read this book. It is one of those stories that touch us in a different way and open your eyes to the injustices of the world. This book follows Santiago on his journey to America. Through his story you can see the dangers that these immigrants face and the reasons for why they want to leave the country that they came from. Once they arrive whether it be legally or illegally there are still so many obstacles and hurdles that they are forced to good through. F ...more
Liz Friend
The story: When he's kicked out of yet another relative's house, Santiago decides he's not going back to live with his abusive grandmother. Instead, he starts toward El Norte, where he's befriended on the way by another traveler and her little girl. When their human-smuggling coyote is killed by rivals, they're left to try to cross the desert on their own--and then separated when they reached the promised land. Maria Dolores and Alegria seem more like family than anyone else he's ever known...bu ...more
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Santiago has been living with various relatives since his mom died when he was 5 years old. Rather than go back to his abusive grandmother, he takes a chance on a kind stranger with a young daughter who are going to "el otro lado" to her sister who has a restaurant. Santiago is initially mistrustful of this young woman who would take on a boy she doesn't know and include him on her trip to the US but he doesn't really have many other options so he takes a leap of faith and joins them. Things go ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I started this because of the premise alone not knowing it was aimed at kids, and it's really changed the way I think about middle grade.

I've seen a lot of reviews say the story is too unrealistic and that getting into the US would be more difficult, and the treatment Santiago suffers in the detainment centre would really be a lot harsher. I'm sure this is sadly true. But considering this is a book for younger kids it was already harrowing and heartbreaking enough even for me. You're bound to ha
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Check out my full video review:

Santiago’s Road Home follows Santiago who after being thrown out of his aunt’s house, decides to immigrate to America with a young mother and her daughter. On the border they get picked up by ICE.

This book follows very relevant and important events happening right now. We see and learn about how kids truly are being treated at the immigration/holding centers. I have read similar books before, and they always hit deep in the guts. This
LS Johnson
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alexandra Diaz again uses her voice and pen to write a powerful and influential story about another aspect of immigration. Personally I have not read any other children’s literature about the life of child immigrants in an ICE facility. And since this is a work of fiction, I will accept it as fiction. However, as a white, northerner who does not see or deal directly with border issues everyday, this book wakes me up to issues and details I have not previously known. The small details, such as no ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Simon Schuster Audio, Alexandra Diaz, and for allowing me to listen to the ALC of this important story about immigrant children detained in an ICE facility near the Mexican boarder. Santiago is a likable character and I really started getting into this book once Santiago & his "sisters" start their journey across the desert with only each other to rely on. It sheds a light on the struggles immigrants face and the way many are treated upon entering this country illegally. The b ...more
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. Heart wrenching. Twelve-year-old Santiago has been passed around from family member to family member by his abusive abuela since his mother was killed in a car accident seven years ago. When his latest tia gives him bus fare to go back, he can’t imagine returning. Sleeping in an abandoned house and scrounging for food bring his path to that of a kind young woman with her five-year-old daughter. The trio travel to a border town and find a coyote to take them to el norte, but when Ma ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: immigration, latinx
Alexandra Diaz's story about a young man's journey is heavy and dark, filled with people and systems who would rather abuse a young orphan than help him, but it is also peppered with people who are ready and eager to help Santiago in any way they can. While conditions in the ICE facility are bleak, Santiago does meet a lawyer who does everything she can to help him and a teacher who encourages him to learn how to read. This is a painful and all too real story that eventually ends with hope. Reco ...more
Erin Buhr
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books
A heart filled story about a boy’s journey from Mexico to the United States. At times harrowing, at times heartbreaking, and often inspiring, Santiago’s experiences sneaking across the border and enduring detainment in the US are incredibly real. Written with excellent pacing and emotion, this is hard to put down. Santiago is an easy to cheer for hero. His kindness, emotions, and hardships pull at your heart strings as you root for him to overcome one obstacle over after another. A story of immi ...more
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: b-b, children-s, audiobook
Of the several books I read this year that dealt with undocumented immigration and family separation, this was my favorite by far. Santiago is a very engaging character--and because he's used to fending for himself, his experience in a youth detention facility isn't compounded by the trauma of being separated from a loving family. Frankly, that makes his story easier to read, although the facility is no summer camp and he's exposed to young children forcibly separated from their parents and even ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Super powerful and important book. (It does not tie in with the first two by Ms. Diaz.) 12-year-old Santiago's life in Mexico is filled with abuse and neglect. He takes a chance on crossing the border, hoping for a better life in the United States. Unfortunately he ends up at a children's detention center. The grim horrors of life inside are both heart-wrenching and eye-opening. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend for grades 5 and up.

eARC provided by Edelweiss
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Twelve-year-old Santiago wants to escape the abuse of his abuela so he decides to head to the United States with a mother and daughter who he has recently met. In the United States, Santiago is separated from those he now considers family and is put into an immigration detention center. This book provides a powerful glimpse into the experience of a child immigrant who is torn from the people who care about him and is at the mercy of an unjust system.
Tracy Mitchell
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Santiago's story is heart wrenching. The reader follows his journey from Mexico to the US. His rationale is shared as he tries to survive. Once he crosses the border, his struggles are not over. He has new difficulties. The holding facility has much to be desired. He worries whether he has been left behind or if he will be deported back to Mexico. He does his best to survive inside the facility. He just wants the basics that so many of us want. He desires a family & a home. ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was beautiful, heart breaking, sobering and inspiring. I have read a handful of articles about people at the border on both sides, but I haven’t read a book on it yet. And while I know this is overall a work or fiction, as the authors note says, it’s based around real accounts.

My heart goes out to anyone that hits insurmountable road blocks while simply trying to find a better way. We all need to stand up and help others. That is humanity.
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