Coming September 2024

The Border Between Us is a poignant coming of age novel that explores the complexities of what it means to be an American when your family and your culture have come from somewhere else.

Ramón Lopez was born along the US–Mexico border but is determined to get out and embrace the American dream—and he’s not sure whether his complicated family is a help or a hindrance. The son of immigrants, Ramón’s admiration for his entrepreneurial father sours as he watches his dad’s dreams of success wither on the vine. Ramón’s mother is constantly preoccupied with his younger brother, who struggles with intellectual disabilities. And the outside world is rife with danger and temptations threatening to distract Ramón from his dreams of making it to New York and succeeding as an artist.

As dreams clash with reality and values conflict with desires, Ramón finds the American dream within his reach—but will it demand too big a sacrifice?

Rudy Ruiz authentically captures the beauty and danger of border life as Ramón struggles to understand his home and his place in the world. The Border Between Us is a stunning, compassionate story about a son’s fraught relationship with his father, the challenges of pursuing a creative life when you come from humble beginnings, and the power of embracing the whole of who you are.


“Rudy Ruiz has written the novel of the year. The Border Between Us is as timely in its topics as it is timeless in its themes. Ruiz understands coming-of-age like few others. His characters are drawn with such soul and veracity, I am left to imagine Ruiz lying wounded at the end of every page, having given so much of himself to this novel. His prose has an ethereal quality– the story’s tension created as much through craft as its incredibly compelling plot. Not since Benjamin Saenz’s PEN/Faulkner-winning collection, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, has a writer so deftly explored being a young man on the Texas-Mexico border and the tribulations that come with having to walk this distinct cultural tightrope. The Border Between Us places Ruiz at eye-level with literary masters of cultural hybridity like Gloria Anzaldúa and Sandra Cisneros. I had to remind myself to breathe throughout entire sections of the novel as my body began to perhaps imagine it could sustain on the magic of Ruiz’s lyricism alone, such is the power of his pen. So rarely can an author dictate the very beating of our heart.”

James Wade, Two-time Spur Award-Winning author of Hollow Out the Dark

“Following in the rich legacy of José Antonio Villareal’s classic coming-of-age novel, Pocho, Rudy Ruiz’s The Border Between Us renders the personal journey of Ramón López with exquisite clarity, compassion, and poignancy. But dare I say that Ruiz’s novel delves deeper into the intricacies of lives bisected by the cultures of Mexico and the U.S. with the concomitant contradictions that ethnic and political allegiances bring to the fore. In the end, he has created a protagonist that is both original and familiar, one that will, no doubt, be recognized as one of our more beloved and complex fictional heroes. This is, quite simply, a stunning work of literature that will enrich as much as it enthralls.”

—Daniel A. Olivas, author of Chicano Frankenstein

“Rudy Ruiz, a masterful storyteller, gripped me with his gorgeously wrought prose and an unforgettable narrator, Ramón, sweet, funny, kind, and the smartest boy who’s ever been swooped off the floor of his overcrowded border school to give the nuns a run for their money with his chile-packet enterprise. This border-crossing boy-turned-misguided-young-man stole my heart from the get-go. I couldn’t put his story down and in one sitting devoured this whole powerful and piquante bildungsroman, chock-full of Dungeons & Dragons, Evel Knievel, avocados stuffed with serranos, and La Virgen appearing on a Brownsville tree. At times wickedly funny, other times acerbic as a rotting pile of limes stuck in the back of a broken-down bakery truck, this portrait of a Mexican artist as a young man examines not only the borders between us but those deeply embedded within us. You will root for Ramón the underdog and the family he can’t always appreciate but who shape him into the champion of his community he will become. A necessary and heartwarming tale.”

—Jennifer Givhan, author of River Woman, River Demon

“An exquisitely crafted, heartbreaking story about nurturing dreams, searching for self, and finding hope within the stifling embrace of a loving family, friends, and community in the beautiful, sometimes dangerous, borderlands of South Texas.”

 —Guadalupe García McCall, Pura Belpré award-winning author

“Like fruit picked from a tree, Rudy Ruiz’s The Border Between Us hands us moments of a childhood along the Mexican American border, some bitter as they portray the loss of innocence, others sweet as they look to a future filled with hope. This marvelous book is not just to be read. It is to be lived. Ruiz continues to astound us with his power as a storyteller.”

Rubén Degollado, author of The Family Izquierdo

“Rudy Ruiz’s The Border Between Us breaks your heart more than once, as the teenage Ramón Lopez from Brownsville struggles to become a man to pursue his artistic dreams. The young Ramón leaves and returns to the border to fashion a new self that can live in different worlds. With sharp, simple prose, Ruiz expertly depicts a son learning to go beyond, yet still love his father. An affecting and engaging novel full of twists and turns that mirror that new self in the throes of becoming.”

—Sergio Troncoso, author of Nobody’s Pilgrims and A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son

“In a world where the mere mention of the word ‘border’ is tinder for outrage, Rudy Ruiz’s The Border Between Us paints a canvas as expansive as the Big River itself. Unflinching in its nuanced depiction of the harsh realities, it is  Ruiz’s deep connection to his roots that shows us the magic, the beauty, and the spirit that might have otherwise eluded us. He also reminds the reader that borders are not limited to geography, centering the story around an often-volatile father-son relationship. Perhaps most inspiring is that as the young, determined Ramón López weighs all that separates us, he manages not to lose sight of the bonds that unite us. A gorgeous novel, and a necessary one in these fraught times.”

— Bruce Ferber, award-winning author of I Buried Paul

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