Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
A poignant bilingual YA graphic novel about a teenage girl's harrowing experience crossing the Mexico-US border.
This compelling young adult graphic memoir, based on real events, tells the story of Gricelda, a fifteen-year-old Mexican girl who attempts to cross the border into America with her mother and younger brother in search of a better life. Their treacherous journey, filled with both heartbreak and hope, begins in Tijuana, where they are transported from house to house by strangers. Here they meet the mysterious smuggler el Guero, who promises to lead the young family through the mountains and the scorching heat of the desert and beyond. Can he prove himself by keeping them safe during the crossing? Will America be the country of dreams like they imagined? Or will adjusting to their new life in California be another type of struggle for Gricelda and her family?
With captivating illustrations inspired by the graffiti and stencil art prevalent during the 2006 political uprising in Oaxaca, as well as local textiles and embroidery, Travesia is Gricelda's first-person account, derived from interviews with author Michelle Gerster and told in both English and Spanish, of crossing the Mexico-US border. Timely and relevant, Travesia is a vibrant and powerful testament to the desperation and resilience of millions of migrating people who endure the pain of leaving their old lives behind to embark on the perilous journey across borders in search of a new life.
Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Centro Legal de la Raza, a legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of low-income, immigrant, Black, and Latinx communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy.
Ages 12 and up.
About the authors
Michelle Gerster is an American photojournalist, videographer, and ESL educator based in Oakland, California, after living in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her work focuses on social justice in relation to immigration and deportation. Her photojournalism on deportation from the US to Mexico received the PROOF Emerging Photojournalist Award honourable mention. Travesia is her first book.
Fiona Dunnett is a Canadian illustrator based in North Vancouver. She trained extensively as a visual artist and illustrator in BC and drew inspiration from living and working in Oaxaca, Mexico. She has done group and solo exhibitions around Mexico and BC, as well as illustration work for the City of Vancouver, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC, and the Vancouver Mural Festival. Her illustrations have been published in Geist and SAD Mag. She was a semifinalist for the Adobe Design Achievement Awards in 2018. Travesia is her first book.
Gerster, who has personal experience of family deportation, makes a noble, precise effort to represent Gricelda's voice. Full of subdued blues, yellows, and oranges, Dunnett's artwork captures the hazy scrapbook feel of memories, honoring Gricelda's story and its nightmarish cadence. A confident chronicle from a young voice at the margins. -Kirkus Reviews
Visually and emotionally engaging, Travesia is a call to action against our devastating immigration policies. Michelle Gerster and Fiona Dunnett beautifully convey a harrowing story that has been experienced directly by untold millions, with an intimacy that will grab your heart. -Peter Kuper, author of Diario de Oaxaca and Ruins
The experiences of young people are absolutely necessary parts of the dialogue about borders and migration. And in Travesia you will find an illustrated story focusing on one such protagonist that is original, tactile, and vividly rewarding. This is one voice that stands for so many, and that will enter your heart and fill it with insight and beauty. -Wayde Compton, author of The Blue Road
Travesia is a beautifully realized tale of migration, fortitude and resilience. Gerster and Dunnett tell this tale with an intimacy that draws you near, even through the most harrowing passages. Travesia is a powerful and important work in the canon of visual storytelling. -Johnnie Christmas, author of Tartarus and Crema