We had a great brown-bag discussion of The Devil's Highway last Saturday. Near the end of the event, we came up with a few questions for Mr. Urrea, the author, so I've been waiting to post until I heard back from him. Well, he hasn't responded yet, but I promise I will let you know when he does. This is what we decided to ask him:
- Are you in touch with any of the survivors? How are they doing?
- Why did you write The Devil's Highway?
Many of us attending the discussion shared with the group what a difficult read Devil's Highway was, painful to read about people suffering so much, going through the stages of heat exhaustion, and then many of them ultimately dying. It's grim. I appreciated that Urrea told the story as if he were a reporter, he did not over-emotionalize or over-identify with any one character, making the story more bearable for me to read. From the Border Patrol cop, to the immigrants from Veracruz, he gave us a picture of each individual; there were no "good" or "bad" guys, they were all people trying to do what they thought was the right thing for them to be doing.
One person at the discussion read an especially poignant quote from near the end of the book: (page 198, 199)
"Vargas watched as each coffin was carried from the plane to great tumult. One by one, they were laid inside the waiting hearses.....Later, she calculated that the dead men's flight alone had cost over sixty-eight thousand dollars.
'What if,' she asked, 'somebody had simply invested that amount in their villages to begin with?'
Something to think about.