A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America
“The Book of Isaias is a compassionate and well-told tale from Tennessee. Daniel Connolly has placed his reporting muscles at the service of a hard-working Mexican family and their smart son, and borne witness to their noble struggles.”—Héctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark
In a green town in the middle of America, a bright 18-year-old Hispanic student named Isaias Ramos sets out on the journey to college. Isaias is the hope of Kingsbury High in Memphis, a school where many students have difficulty reading. But Kingsbury’s dysfunction, expensive college fees, and forms printed in a language that’s foreign to his parents are all obstacles in the way of getting him to a university. Isaias also doubts the value of college and says he might go to work in his family’s painting business after high school, despite his academic potential. Is Isaias making a rational choice? Or does he simply hope to avoid pain by deferring dreams that may not come to fruition? This is what journalist Daniel Connolly attempts to uncover in The Book of Isaias as he follows Isaias, peers into a tumultuous final year of high school, and, eventually, shows how adults intervene in the hopes of changing Isaias’s life. Every day, children of immigrants make decisions about their lives that will shape our society and economy for generations. This engaging, poignant book captures an American microcosm and illustrates broader challenges for our collective future.
Daniel Connolly has reported on Mexican immigration to the U.S. South for several news organizations, including the Associated Press and The Commercial Appeal (Memphis). The winner of numerous journalism prizes, he has received grants and fellowships from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the International Center for Journalists, and the Fulbright program. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.