Through its fictional characters, Jumping the Line provides an intriguing and accurate look at an issue historically important and still debated. The author treats his characters with compassion but doesn't gloss over their mistakes. Readers will be sucked in by the story and come away with a stronger understanding of the everyday realities farmworkers face.
- Leila Kheiry
From the back cover:
In 1965, Congress ends the practice of bringing Mexican workers to the United States to harvest crops, but Miguel Hernandez still needs work. Despite border patrols, taunts, and "coyotes," Miguel jumps the line. Returning him to his country makes little difference. He continues to cross. And farmers continue to hire him, despite American farmworkers being available.
Over the years, laws change, but the demand for Mexican workers increases. Ignoring or obeying the rules, farmworkers on all sides - ranch owners, union organizers, immigrants, illegal border crossers, Mexican farmers - do their best to make a living.
With sensitivity and, at times, heartbreaking realism, Harpold presents families caught in the web of migratory farm work spun by demand for cheap labor. Over the decades, the paths of the families interweave, break away, and then get caught together again. All struggle to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Some find success. Others keep trying. A few never make it.
Like John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Harpold's Jumping the Line puts a human face to those providing our food. Having seen many sides of the immigration issue through his work with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service along the Mexican border, Harpold presents a realistic view of the experiences of farmers, illegal immigrants, and American farmworkers where complex issues and humane considerations defy simple solutions.
Cover art by Ketchikan, Alaska artist Dave Rubin.