When Enrique Gomez was 5 years old, his mother left him with relatives in Honduras while she traveled to the United States to find work. For more than a decade, Enrique waited desperately for her to come home. Finally, at the age of 17, he set out on his own to find her.
In her book "Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother," Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the hardship and peril Enrique endured from the moment his mother stepped off the front porch of their Tegucigalpa home to the moment he saw her again in North Carolina a dozen years later. The UC Santa Barbara Library has chosen the book as this year's selection for UCSB Reads.
An annual winter quarter event, UCSB Reads engages the campus and the Santa Barbara community in conversations about a key topic while reading the same book. The theme for 2010 is "Beyond Borders: The Human Experience."
Beginning at 8 a.m. on January 14, the UCSB Library will give 2,500 free copies of the book to registered UCSB students. In addition, the UCSB Bookstore will sell the book at a 20 percent discount. The Antioch University Library, the Luria Library at Santa Barbara City College, the Westmont College Library, and local high schools are partners in the program. The book is also a Santa Barbara Public Library System "Read" selection for this winter. Extra copies will be available for loan throughout Santa Barbara County.
Free campus and community lectures and discussions about the book will begin in February at UCSB's Davidson Library and continue throughout the quarter in public libraries and at UCSB. A free presentation by the author is scheduled for Thursday, February 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Campbell Hall.
"Enrique's Journey" is based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes in 2003 –– one for feature writing and another for feature photography. The series has received more than a dozen additional awards, including the George Polk Award for International Reporting, the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Guillermo Martinez-Marques Award for Overall Excellence. Expanded into a book, "Enrique's Journey" became a national bestseller, earned two book awards, and is now required reading for incoming freshmen at dozens of colleges and high schools across the United States.
Nazario, who spent her childhood in Kansas and Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She has spent 20 years reporting and writing about social issues, tackling some of this country's most intractable problems, such as hunger, drug addiction, and immigration issues. Currently a projects reporter at the Los Angeles Times, she began her career at the Wall Street Journal, where she reported from bureaus in New York, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Williams College, and earned her master's degree in Latin American studies from UC Berkeley.
For information about UCSB Reads, contact Brian Mathews, assistant university librarian, at email@example.com or (805) 893-2674. A complete list of upcoming UCSB Reads activities is available at http://UCSBreads.library.ucsb.edu.