Tell Me How it Ends
By Valeria Luiselli
Review by Connie (PPE)
“The problem with trying to tell their story, is that it has no beginning, no middle and no end.”
This essay shares the plight of undocumented child immigrants in the US using the 40 questions that they are faced with upon arrival into the “land of the free”. Through anecdotal analysis of one volunteer seeking to use her skills to be able to help in the crazy world that is Trump’s America, the broader immigration crisis is highlighted. This all sounds a bit grim and as you read through the forty questions – as a child fleeing from Guatemala or whichever other country would do upon their detainment in the US – you begin to feel angry and helpless in the light of the American nightmare that those who fearfully cross the border alone are plunged into upon arrival in the US. However, upon arriving at the fourth section, “Community”, which is based on the haiku-like notes that Valeria and her niece find during their first days of helping within the labyrinth that is the US immigration system, you begin to feel optimistic.
Despite the book’s narrow focus, the author proves that it is difficult for questions regarding the lives of others to be answered. Perhaps sometimes they can be broken down into small sections so that the human dimension of the task is lost. This has a parallel with the PPE course that I have recently embarked on. Often, the questions that are considered as part of my course are difficult to answer, and sometimes lacking structure just as the story of these undocumented children. However, the course is equipping me with the tools to begin to think about answering these types of questions. The intimate narrative of this short book is one that is compelling and easy to follow, and inspiring in the sense that it made me want to learn more. It made me want to make a positive impact. This is exactly what a piece of literature is supposed to do and this essay does it so well.
Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.