Publication details [#1396]

Cummins, Amy. 2013. Border Crossings: Undocumented Migration Between Mexico and the United States in Contemporary Young Adult Literature. Children’s Literature in Education 44 (1) : 57–73. 17 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
New York: Springer Link


This study identifies patterns in 11 English language young adult novels from the past three decades (1981–2011) which depict undocumented migration between Mexico and the United States. The increase in YA novels on this topic demonstrates rising public concern. These books offer sympathetic identification with border crossing youth. Eight of the 11 books use narration from the perspective of the border crosser. Six of the protagonists are transported by parents, while the others make the decision to enter the United States without authorization. The border crossers struggle against antagonistic forces of poverty, physical danger, and immigration laws. Migration is not a unidirectional movement from Mexico into the United States; most, but not all, of the border crossers live in the United States at the narratives’ conclusions. These literary works implicitly urge the “empathetic outreach” of Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands philosophy and argue for what Pablo Ramirez terms a “borderlands ethical stance” in which individuals justifiably violate laws. This essay advances discourse about Mexican immigration into the United States by establishing fundamental characteristics of the YA novel about undocumented migration, analyzing significant examples, and exploring implications for teachers. (Abstract provided by the author)