In Beast Rider, award-winning author Tony Johnston and psychotherapistMaria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads “offer a sympathetic, illuminating portrait of the challenges faced by one undocumented immigrant” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review).
Twelve-year-old Manuel leaves his small town in Mexico to join his older brother in Los Angeles. To cross the US border, he must become a “beast rider”—someone who hops on a train. The first time he tries, he is stopped by the Mexican police, who arrest and beat him. When he tries again, he is attacked by a Mexican gang and left for dead.
Just when Manuel is ready to turn back, he finds new hope. Villagers clothe and feed him, help him find work, and eventually boost him back onto the train. When he finally arrives in LA and is reunited with his brother, he is elated. But the longer he’s there, the more he realizes that something isn’t right.
Thrilling and heartfelt, Beast Rider is a coming-of-age story that reveals how a place and its people help to define you.
**STARRED REVIEW**Kirkus Reviews
"Like the chugging of The Beast, Johnston's poetic prose permeates Manuel's journey and gives a steady rhythm to the story even as Oaxaca-based psychotherapist and translator Fontanot de Rhoads provides details to ground it . . . A beautiful, visceral plunge into the perils that the train-jumping migrant brotherhood experiences."
**STARRED REVIEW**Publishers Weekly
"Johnston (Bone by Bone by Bone) and de Rhoads (a psychotherapist and debut author) offer a sympathetic, illuminating portrait of the challenges faced by one undocumented immigrant."
"This does not shy away from the brutal realities of Manuel’s journey, but it also glories in the kindness and love of strangers, giving this harrowing story a balance of fear and hope . . . A tough yet hopeful immigration story."Booklist
"A reflective look at the perils of migration and the powerful, competing calls of family and homeland."The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"[Beast Rider] reads like one long poem.”Susan Goldman Rubin
“Beast Rider, like the best in literature, begs to be read again and again.”Lisa Krieger, retired head of Children's Services, San Luis Obispo County Library
"This story feels personal and real; it does not romanticize or try to fully tackle the complex issue of immigration. Manuel narrates in a frank, unflinching manner, using a well-crafted combination of short, abrupt thoughts and longer descriptive sentences. Spanish words and phrases are woven expertly throughout the narrative."School Library Journal