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By the Lake of Sleeping Children delves into the post-NAFTA and Proposition 187 border purgatory of garbage pickers and dump dwellers, gawking tourists and relief workers, fearsome coyotes and their desperate clientele. In sixteen indelible portraits, Urrea illuminates the horrors and the simple joys of people trapped between the two worlds of Mexico and the United States-and ignored by both. His reflections on his own experiences coming-of-age in a Tijuana brothel, serving as a missionary, and shuttling illegals back to Mexico from the United States add a searing personal dimension to this startling and memorable work of first-person reportage.