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Review of Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood 
to Columbia University

Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University
by Francisco Jiménez
Middle School, High School    Houghton    200 pp.
4/15    978-0-547-63230-8    $16.99    g

In the fourth volume of his memoir series (The Circuit, rev. 11/00; Breaking Through, rev. 11/01; Reaching Out, 2008), Jiménez delivers a moving account of his graduate school years at Columbia University during the turbulent 1960s, paying particular attention to those friends and mentors who helped shape his intellectual pursuits and academic career path. He also relates his courtship and marriage to his college sweetheart, Laura, and the birth of their two children. Throughout it all, Jiménez never forgets his beginnings as the child of migrant farm workers, frequently alluding to and briefly recapitulating events from earlier volumes. There is a humble sincerity and earnest plainspokenness to Jiménez’s prose (“Mustering all the courage I had, I broke the long silence. ‘Mr. Facchini…I…I want to ask you for Laura’s hand in marriage’”). His ingratiating storytelling — who else could make these years of adulthood such a compelling read for teens? — make us root for him to succeed. An author’s note with a selection of captioned photographs is appended.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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