Sin Nombre

Institute History


Every day, hundreds of illegal immigrants from Central America cross Mexico aboard freight trains in the hopes of making it to the United States. Of the many who begin, only a handful will succeed. Sayra, a 15-year-old girl traveling with her estranged father, Horacio, understands the risks, the most ruthless of which is a gang known as the Mara Salvatrucha. For her, though, leaving her old life behind is worth any price.

When a group of Maras attack Sayra’s train car in southern Mexico, it seems her journey has reached a quick and tragic end. But inexplicably, one of them, a 17-year-old boy named Willy, saves her life; in the process, he kills another Mara, placing himself in grave danger of retaliation.

Now Willy has become an accidental immigrant. The Maras will use all their resources to hunt him down. The tattoos that cover his body not only identify him as a Mara, but they also make him a target of other gangs, police, and resentful immigrants. On the other hand, Sayra is traveling with a father she is just beginning to know. Revelations and resentments emerge as Sayra and Willy form a special bond that threatens Horacio’s plans of recreating a family together in the United States.

If they are to survive the miseries of their odyssey, the unforgiving landscape, and the incessant pursuit of the gang, all of these travelers must learn to trust one another.

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