Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
Xolo Score 4.5/5
Infinite Country kicks off with a 15-year-old breaking out of a reform school in the Colombian mountains. Talia, who has U.S. Citizenship, was raised in Bogota with her father and grandmother and is desperate to return to the city, fly back to New Jersey, and reunite with her mother and older siblings. Throughout Talia’s journey, Infinite Country explores the culmination of choices and circumstances that led to her family’s initial separation. As well as the sacrifices each family member makes to survive and overcome a traumatic immigration story.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
Infinite Country highlights the complexities of growing up in a mixed-status household forced to live separately. Talia’s parents, Elena and Mauro, took a risk by immigrating to the United States with Talia’s eldest sister Karina during a turbulent and uncertain time in Colombia. They saw the U.S. as a beacon of stability they craved for their children. Talia and Nando, her older brother, are born with the privilege of U.S. citizenship, but it doesn’t shield them from Mauro’s deportation. The family makes the hardest decision of sending Talia to Bogota with her father while Elena raises Karina and Nando alone in the U.S. The impact of the family’s separation ripples for many years. Naturally, the family is estranged, and each member resents what was lost. But when the family has an opportunity to reunite, the force of their love is more vital than any inhumane immigration policy.
Each family member’s story demonstrates the complexities and nuances of immigration and its perceived worth. Mauro and Elena are of a generation that saw many violent hypocrisies from the Colombian government and its impacts on his family’s safety and livelihood. That was enough reason for them to leave, even if what was waiting for them was more sorrow and loss. While the younger members of the family question if enduring life in Colombia was a better path because they would have stayed together. When it comes to migrating, even by choice, it would always come with insurmountable loss and internalized occupation.
The family’s journey is also an indictment of the American Dream and its ability to keep everyone “hostage to its fantasy.” Like so many immigrants, Talia’s parents push themselves limitlessly to make their immigration worth all the sacrifices they’ve overpaid. These Sacrifices pass unto Talia and her siblings to unwillingly reap the task of reconnecting bonds between each other that have strained over so many years.
Infinite Country is a gut-wrenching immigration story of a family torn apart but never broken.
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