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The Book of Isaias

A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America

Daniel Connolly

St. Martin's Press

The Book of Isaias Download image

ISBN10: 1250083060
ISBN13: 9781250083067


272 Pages



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First Place for the Best Political/Current Affairs Book, International Latino Book Awards

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, who passed a prestigious national calculus test as a junior and leads the quiz bowl team, 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’ life.

Mexican immigration has brought the proportion of Hispanics in the nation’s youth population to roughly one in four. 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.


Praise for The Book of Isaias

"A poignant microcosm of the reality that many students in America today face overwhelming barriers on the path to a college degree."—Gates Foundation

"The Book of Isaias is a compassionate and well-told tale from Tennessee, a corner of the U.S. that is being remade, quietly, by the dreams and the labor of Latino immigrants. 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 the New York Times best-selling Deep Down Dark

"Thought-provoking and moving . . . The story of Isaias Ramos is the story of thousands of young immigrants; the challenges they face and the choices they make will shape the country for decades to come."—Miriam Pawel, author of The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography, a National Book Critics Circle finalist

"Daniel Connolly has written a deeply researched, moving account of one teenager’s efforts to find a foothold in 21st century America as a child of Mexican immigrants. At a time when our views of immigrants, especially from Latin America, are colored by simplistic, divisive rhetoric, this is a heartfelt, but most importantly a true account—one person's story that makes us realize the universality of the immigrant experience."—Ian Johnson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Summer 2012:
About nine months before graduation

ISAIAS SPENT THE SUMMER before his senior year working with Dennis and his parents...

About the author

Daniel Connolly

DANIEL CONNOLLY speaks fluent Spanish, and, for more than a decade, has reported on Mexican immigration to the U.S. South for news organizations including The Associated Press in Little Rock, and The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. 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 his hometown of Memphis, TN.

Jacobo Parra

Daniel Connolly

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