Hurdles in the Dark: My Story of Survival, Resilience, and Triumph

In this captivating debut memoir, a Mexican American athlete writes about her experiences as a teen growing up in a Texas border town.

At 14, when Elvira Kristelle "Kristy" Gonzalez should have been running track and beating the boys in footraces in the barrio of Laredo, Tex., she instead raced against the clock to save her mother. It's 2006 and Ma drove "across the Rio Grande and over the border into Mexico" to attend a wedding. At the time, corrupt police or cartels impersonating law enforcement would pull people over and "force the person's family and friends to pay the cartel off--or else they [would] make people disappear forever." Kristy is given 24 hours to find $40,000 to pay her mother's ransom. Though Kristy successfully brings her mother back home, their relationship is never the same: "I try looking into her eyes, but every time I do, they haunt me." As they each battle with the traumatic events of the kidnapping, their fighting intensifies. When Kristy is 16, her mother has her arrested for "family violence" and Kristy is sent to a juvenile detention center. While in this "jail for kids," Kristy vows to never return and throws her all into getting a track scholarship.

In this gritty and inspiring narrative, Gonzalez recounts the harrowing events of her childhood while paying homage to her Tejana heritage. Gonzalez candidly writes about financial uncertainty, racism, sexual abuse, and violence in her sincere and thoughtful work, which gives an unfiltered and honest account of how she defied the odds of her circumstances. Hurdles in the Dark highlights the struggles that many vulnerable young athletes from underrepresented backgrounds face.--Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

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