The Wind Knows My Name: A Novel
by Isabel Allende
Hardcover- $28.00

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “The lives of a Jewish boy escaping Nazi-occupied Europe and a mother and daughter fleeing twenty-first-century ...

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  "A very well written book, but not quite even handed in its presentation of facts." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 07/18/23

The Wind Knows My Name, Isabel Allende, author; Edoardo Ballerini, Maria Liatis, narrators, Frances Riddle, translator
The author has very skillfully shone a light on America's broken immigration system. She has knitted together several tragic events to highlight the abuses. In the novel, Samuel Adler is a 7-year-old violin prodigy. He was separated from his family via the Kinder Transport that rescued children during the Holocaust. Families willingly gave up their children to save them from the horror they knew was coming. They hoped to be reunited, one day. There was poor record keeping and a genocide followed.
Another is Anita Diaz, aged 7, who was separated from her mother at the border of the United States and Mexico, as they left their country hoping to enter the United States to find safety. They were caught at the border due to circumstances beyond their control. They were running from Carlos Gomez, a man with a violent reputation. Mirasol Diaz believed their lives were in grave danger. Anita and her mother were forcefully separated at the border, ostensibly to keep Anita safe, since child trafficking had become a big business. They expected to be reunited.
The father of Carlos Gomez had once participated in the massacre in El Salvador that caused our third character, Letitia Cordero, to flee El Mozote with her father, during the Civil War, when she was just a young child. Years later, during the raging Covid 19 pandemic, we find Letitia in the home of Samuel Adler. She is the housekeeper and companion for Samuel, now a widower whom she calls Mr. Bogart, which was his wife's pet name for him. When she discovers that she is related to the young child, Anita Diaz, the threads of the novel connect as they each find a new purpose and discover a new direction in life.
For background, Samuel, Letitia and Anita, had something in common. They all suffered great loss. They all fled danger and they all wound up in Berkely, California. Because of the tragedies in their lives, they had to learn to adjust to a new land and a new language as they struggled to survive. All three had suffered the trauma of separation from those they loved. How they adjusted to the cruelties of life and built a new life, is one of the themes of this book. How manmade cruelties caused their trauma is a major theme of this book, as well. Does the author believe the United States played a part in all of these events leading to so much tragedy? What will you, the reader, believe? Man’s inhumanity to man is writ large on every page.
There are rules that must be followed in any civilized country, and the border of that country is usually considered sacrosanct. If the sheer number of immigrants that wish to come to America overwhelms the immigration system, the sanctuary country runs the risk of becoming a failed nation. Has the author given that issue any consideration? The fact remains that entering America illegally is a crime. If the border wasn’t overwhelmed by so many illegal entries, sponsored by “coyotes” and those who would defy our laws, the system would not break down and those who truly needed sanctuary would find it more easily. It is a known fact that not all immigrants come to escape danger. Some come for economic benefit. They need to wait their turn and enter legally. The United States owes its first responsibility to its own citizens, and illegal immigrants are stretching the ability of our health care, education and housing market to its breaking point. Many come to America for the free services we provide, but they are overwhelming the system, and therefore, some get trapped by the very system they hoped would save them.
Although the book was published in June of 2023, at a time when more facts were known about the flaws of our immigration system and who was responsible for them, the author chose to blame many who were not responsible, simply because of her progressive ideals. In some cases, she presented what seemed like flawed information, like when she pointed to the fact that children were kept in "cages" by the administration in power during the Pandemic. In fact, it started in 2014, during the administration of another President. Although the characters yearned for a vaccine, she did not give credit to the President who enabled it, and actually called someone who worked for that President a fascist. The author has used her bully pulpit to promote a political point of view, but not necessarily a totally honest one.
The book is heartbreaking, no doubt about it. She describes the "Night of Broken Glass" with precision and the massacre at El Mozote with authenticity. She exposes the flaws in our broken system, but she attributes them to the wrong culprits, often, to promote a progressive viewpoint. The failures in the system are caused by those who continue to allow system to flourish with idealistic remedies that fail. Simply put, America cannot save the entire world. She laments that serial killers have a right to a lawyer, but not immigrants, but she ignores the fact that one is a citizen of the country, and one has entered the country illegally. Both may be criminals, but both are not Americans; both are not entitled to the same rights.
Also, not all republicans and conservatives refused to wear masks and not all progressives and democrats obeyed the rules and got vaccinated, but she portrays the right and left according to her personal political views which lean to the left. Essentially, she has compared our border crisis to the Holocaust, which I find to be a contradiction of terms. In one case, you have people flooding our border, willingly, hoping to find safety, and in the other you have innocent people removed from a country, unwillingly, to be murdered. The mistakes of the past cannot be corrected by making bigger mistakes in the present.
I do not condone the tragedies that have occurred, but the problems of Central America must be solved by Central America. America must have a border and rules and regulations must be followed. We are witnessing the decline of our own cities because of progressive policies that are unrealistic, though well-meaning. Who is to blame? The author has one view, I have another. What will you, the reader, believe?

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