The Crossroads

The Crossroads

For Ages: 8 - 12
“An incredibly heartfelt depiction of immigrants and refugees in a land full of uncertainty.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Diaz paints an insightful, realistic picture of a place that’s filled with opportunity but simultaneously rife with discrimination, which is especially important reading for today’s children.” —Booklist

“Fans of The Only Road will appreciate following Jaime and Ángela on the next phase of their lives, while teachers and librarians may find the text useful to counter unsubstantiated myths about Central Americans fleeing to the US.” —School Library Journal

Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road.

After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Ángela fits in quickly, with new friends and after-school activities, Jaime struggles with even the idea of calling this strange place “home.” His real home is with his parents, abuela, and the rest of the family; not here where cacti and cattle outnumber people, where he can no longer be himself—a boy from Guatemala.

When bad news arrives from his parents back home, feelings of helplessness and guilt gnaw at Jaime. Gang violence in Guatemala means he can’t return home, but he’s not sure if he wants to stay either. The US is not the great place everyone said it would be, especially if you’re sin papeles—undocumented—like Jaime. When things look bleak, hope arrives from unexpected places: a quiet boy on the bus, a music teacher, an old ranch hand. With his sketchbook always close by, Jaime uses his drawings to show what it means to be a true citizen.

Powerful and moving, this touching sequel to The Only Road explores overcoming homesickness, finding ways to connect despite a language barrier, and discovering what it means to start over in a new place that alternates between being wonderful and completely unwelcoming.
  • Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781534414556 | 
  • September 2018 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Crossroads

By Alexandra Diaz

About the Book

After a dangerous and difficult journey, twelve-year-old Jaime Rivera and his cousin Ángela have finally made it to the United States, where they are living with Jaime’s older brother, Tomás, on a ranch in New Mexico. Being in the United States means attending school there, but while Ángela seems to fit right in, Jaime struggles to navigate a world of teachers and students who are not always welcoming to a new student—especially one who does not speak English yet. When the dangerous gang, the Alphas, attacks their grandmother in Guatemala, Jaime accepts he can’t go back, even though he wants nothing more than to return home to his family. Except it’s not safe. While there are immigration officers to fear, living in the U.S. is still safer than home. Thankfully, new friends and allies give Jaime and Ángela hope that love, friendship, family, and art will help them bridge the gap between the home they left and the home they are building.

Discussion Questions

1. Consider the book’s title. What is the literal meaning of crossroads? Why is this term often used symbolically, for instance, when we say someone is at a crossroad in life? What crossroads do the characters in this book encounter? Have you ever experienced crossroads in your own life?

2. Why do you see more

More Books from this Author

The Only Road
El único destino (The Only Road)

About the Author

Alexandra Diaz
Owen Benson

Alexandra Diaz

Alexandra Diaz is the author of The Only Road, which was a Pura Belpré Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and the recipient of two starred reviews. She is also the author of Of All the Stupid Things, which was a ALA Rainbow List book and a New Mexico Book Award finalist. Alexandra is the daughter of Cuban refugees and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but got her MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University in England. A native Spanish speaker, Alexandra now teaches creative writing to adults and teens. Visit her online at