The month-long events for Clinton County Reads 2020 have been set at local libraries and the General Denver Hotel, starting Wednesday, March 18 with a book discussion and culminating April 21 with a dinner and presentation by
Jon Branstrato is a local farmer who has spent many winters in Central America, including working for seed producers in Costa Rica. He also happens to be a friend of the author of this year’s book choice, “The Line Becomes a River.”
The official kickoff event will be at 6:30 p.m. March 23 at the Wine Cellar with a presentation by Megan Fair, “People, Places, and Perspectives: A Conversation about Identity and ‘The Line Becomes a River.’”
Fair is a Clinton County native who has lived across the country and around the world. She has spent the last decade working alongside Muslims, communities of color, and refugees.
Copies of the 2020 Clinton County Reads book choice, “The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border,” by Francisco Cantú, are available at the event’s sponsoring locations: the Blanchester Public Library; Sabina Public Library and its New Vienna branch; Wilmington Public Library and its Clinton-Massie branch; and locally owned booksnmore.org.
“The Line Becomes a River” was written about Cantú’s time from 2008 to 2012 in the Border Patrol, where he and his partners were posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors.
The agents tracked other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They hauled in the dead and delivered to detention those they found alive.
Cantú left field work for a desk job and became more reflective and more disturbed; eventually, he returned to scholarship with a research grant. But then a man he knew and liked through a daily coffee shop connection ran afoul of the border authorities after returning to Mexico to visit his dying mother and trying to return to his home and family.
“His plight and the author’s involvement in it, perhaps an attempt to find personal redemption, puts a human face on the issue and gives it a fresh, urgent perspective,” writes Kirkus Reviews. “A devastating narrative of the very real human effects of depersonalized policy.”
A former Fulbright fellow, Cantú is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award. The book received the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Western Writers of America Spur Award, and the Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award.
It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction, and for the American Library Association Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The Washington Post and NPR named it a “Top 10 Book for 2018.”
Events surrounding the Clinton County Reads choice of “The Line Becomes a River,” all open to the public, are:
• March 18 — Book discussion 6 p.m. at the South Street Wine Cellar, 64 W. Main St, Wilmington.
• March 23 — Kickoff, “People, Places, and Perspectives,” by Megan Fair, at 6:30 p.m at the South Street Wine Cellar, 64 W. Main St.
• March 27 — Book discussion at 10:30 a.m. at the Sabina Public Library.
• March 31 — Film presentation, “All of Me (Llévate Mis Amores),” a documentary that tells the stories of women who live in La Patrona, a Mexican village situated by the tracks of a train from Central America that brings migrants north to the United States, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wilmington Public Library.
• April 2 — Book discussion at 7 p.m. at the Blanchester Public Library.
• April 7 — Presentation, “My Life South of the Border,” by Katie Ubry-Terrell, at 6:30 p.m. at the New Vienna branch of the Sabina Public Library. In college, Ubry-Terrell studied in Ecuador and Japan, which piqued her interest in other cultures and led her to India, Honduras, Spain, Belize, and eventually to an orphanage in Baja California, Mexico, where she lived and worked for 18 months. She moved back to her native New Vienna in 2018. She and her husband, Randy, are in the process of adopting 3 boys from Mexico.
• April 9 — Book discussion at 1 p.m. at Kava Haus, 187 E. Locust St., Wilmington.
• April 16 — Presentation, “Immigration: Here and Now,” by Antonio Fernandez, director of Roberts Welcome Center at Roberts Academy in Cincinnati, at 7 p.m. at the Blanchester Public Library. Fernandez will speak about working with immigrant families.
• April 21 — Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at the General Denver in Wilmington, 81 W. Main St. Jon Branstrator, who farms in Clinton County, will discuss “Centeōtl to NAFTA, Motivation for Migration.” Pre-dinner social time, featuring a cash bar, will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Reservations for the dinner are required by April 17; call 937-383-4141. The $15 per-person cost will include dinner, beverage, dessert and gratuity.