01.23.2018

All They Will Call You
by Tim Z. Hernandez
published January 2018
ISBN: 9780816537372
★★★★★

You may have heard of a protest folk song written by Woody Guthrie called "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)." It's been covered by a ton of folks, like Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez, and tells the story of a plane crash in 1948 where dozens of Mexican nationals and a few Americans died in a horrific blaze. At the time, no one was sure who the Mexican nationals were on board. Their families never got closure.

Tim Hernandez set out on an adventure a few years ago to name these victims and tell their stories.

Before I get into what this book is, it's important to cover what it is not. It is not dry or academic. It is not about how airplanes work, or the politics of how the US has treated migrant workers.

What it is is a series of short vignettes giving a name and face to the victims -- a short tale of a romance, told by the 90-something year old woman who was the girl he left behind; a tale of a man who brought his love of baseball to each labor camp be joined; a small town struggling to build a well.

I anticipated this book taking a while to read but I read it two sittings and would have happily read another 100 pages.

I highly recommend this to anyone -- unless you're about to board an airplane anytime soon. ;)