I read Lauren Markham's nonfiction work The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life in 2018 but can’t find that I ever wrote much about it on Books in Northport beyond a passing mention. While I can hardly construct a review at this late date, I ran across the draft of a set of discussion questions I'd put together, in the event that a group could be persuaded to take on the topic. Here are the questions, out in plain sight, so I won’t risk losing track of them altogether -- such is the digital filing “system” of a an organizationally challenged philosopher-bookseller (who is better with books on shelves). Maybe some book club somewhere who is reading the book currently can use these for a springboard.
Do you believe the death threat against Ernesto endangered the life of his identical twin brother Raul, or did Raul simply not want to be left behind? What other factors might have influenced Raul’s decision?
Do you think young people fleeing gang violence in other countries increase the level of violence to the U.S.? Explain. (What about already-American families moving to suburbs to escape gang violence in cities? )
Did you have any idea while reading early chapters what traumatic event Ernesto had experienced on his way north? Did learning what it was surprise you? What did it help explain?
If you have ever lived in a house with unrelated residents in addition to family, what was the situation, and why were you part of it? How were disputes resolved?
What aspects of poverty experienced by the Flores family, both in El Salvador and in the U.S., similar to poverty in general? What aspects were unique to their situations? Do you have any personal experience of poverty?
Did this book help you gain clarity on what a reasonable solution to immigration, legal and illegal, might look like? Having read the book, in what ways is your perspective now more or less clear, and has your view changed (if so, how?) or does it remain unchanged? What other books, if any, have you read on the subject of immigration, and how does this book’s coverage of the subject compare to that of others? Would you recommend this book to others interested in the subject?
If you were a parent in a town like La Colonia, El Salvador, would you try to keep your children “down on the farm” or send them “north”? How would you make decisions for their future? How could family life there be different? What is within their power and what beyond their control?