by Julio Anta, Illustrated by Jacoby Salcedo
Mateo makes the dangerous journey back home to the United States through the Sonoran Desert with the help of a new friend, a ghost named Guillermo in a supernatural borderland odyssey by debut graphic novelists Julio Anta and Jacoby Salcedo.
As long as he remembers to stay smart and keep his eyes open, Mateo knows that he can survive the trek across the Sonoran Desert that will take him from Mexico to the United States. That is until he's caught by the Border Patrol only moments after sneaking across the fence in the dead of night.
Escaping their clutches comes at a price and, lost in the desert without a guide or water, Mateo is ill-prepared for the unforgiving heat that is sure to arrive come sunrise. With the odds stacked against him, his one chance at survival may be putting his trust in something, or rather someone, that he isn't even sure exists.
If you'd asked him if ghosts were real before he found himself face-to-face with one, Mateo wouldn't have even considered it. But now, confronted with the nearly undeniable presence of Guillermo, he's having second thoughts. Having spent his afterlife guiding migrants to safety, Guillermo knows things about the Sonoran Desert far beyond what could be explained by a mere hallucination. But even as Mateo forms an uneasy partnership with Guillermo, survival is still uncertain.
The Sonoran Desert, with its hostile temperatures and inhabitants, is teeming with danger as the Border Patrol and rogue militias prowl its deadly terrain. As his journey stretches on, Mateo will have to decide exactly what and who he's willing to sacrifice to find home.
Target age: 13 and up
"Anta pulls no punches, organically weaving together myriad contemporary border issues. Salcedo's richly colored backdrops and expressive characters make the desert and its inhabitants come alive in an adventure steeped in magical realism that artfully conveys a small sampling of migrant stories." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An absolute gut punch of a story. This book belongs in every high school and middle school library in our country." -- Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of Squad
"This magical graphic novel captures the very real resilience of people trying to build a life of stability and emphasizes how love can survive and cross the most desolate plains." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
About the Contributors:
Julio Anta is an author from Miami, FL known for his comic book series Home. He currently resides in New York City, where he works to tell narratively rich stories about diverse Latinx characters for readers of all ages. This is his debut graphic novel.
Jacoby Salcedo is a comic book artist who works day and night from his bed in Portland, Oregon. He has published multiple short stories with frequent collaborator Julio Anta, and is the co-creator of the Dark Horse Comics miniseries It's Only Teenage Wasteland.