Teaser Tuesdays: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just open your current read to a random page and share a few sentences. Be careful not to include spoilers!

I think we’ve all heard a lot about this bestselling work of nonfiction; I’m going to end up adding my voice to those recommending it, and I can say that Robin Miles’s narration of the audiobook is worthwhile as well. Check out this piece of writing:

From Louisiana, he followed the hyphens in the road that blurred together toward a faraway place, bridging unrelated things as hyphens do. Alone in the car, he had close to two thousand miles of curving road in front of him, farther than farmworker emigrants leaving Guatemala for Texas, not to mention Tijuana for California, where a wind from the south could blow a Mexican clothesline over the border.

Aren’t the hyphens lovely? And I appreciate the geographical detail, that these migrants within their own country traveled further than the international ones we hear so much about. This makes me think of an experience I had at the Rio Grande down at the Texas-Mexico border. I hope you’ll indulge me…

I was down in & around Big Bend National and State Parks with friends, mountain biking and checking out the hot springs. We visited one hot springs right on the Rio Grande, and the enterprising Mexicans across the river had set up a little honor-system sale of arty crafts: they had set out scorpions twisted out of wire and the like on a rock, with prices labeled, and we were to leave our money behind (I was told) and they would paddle over after dark to retrieve it. We looked across the river, some 15 feet, and saw people in the trees watching us back. This drove home to me how small, how subtle is the physical border between two political states, and made me marvel at the huge difference our governments expect us to see between someone born on one side of this little trickling dirty stream of a river, and someone born on the other. It seems like an cruelly arbitrary way to decide who gets what advantages in life. I had to conclude that if I were born on the “wrong” side and thought I saw opportunity on the other, I too would wade across. What’s a little muddy water, anyway? That image, of the tiny Rio Grande as border, was recalled to me by Wilkerson’s point about the wind blowing a clothesline across.

I’ve been distracted. Call this a teaser of the feelings and musings that Wilkerson has evoked in just the first few tracks of this lovely (audio)book. I recommend her.

And what are you reading this week?

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