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Inez’s family threatens to fragment when her father gets arrested smuggling marijuana into the U.S. The old ways cherished by her beloved Mexican grandmother offer refuge from the turmoil. But life in El Paso is far more exciting, as mini-skirts, rock music, and the sexual revolution shatter tradition on both sides of the border.

Poised between two countries and hovering at the divide of childhood and womanhood, her fractured family no longer providing safe ground, Inez must choose whether to make the dangerous leap her parents never quite made, the leap faced by every new American: letting go of the old country to embrace a new destiny in the United States.

ISBN | 978-1-939530-01-1 (paper) | 978-1-939530-02-8 (digital)


With AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS Marta Elva pulls us into the minds of a half-dozen members of a border family in crisis, dramatizing the state of living ni aqui, ni alla—neither here nor there geographically and emotionally. A moving first novel. — John Sayles, film director, author, and MacArthur fellow

The aptly named AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS depicts the balancing act some bi-cultural families must undertake to live in America. The characters indeed “tumble” back and forth over our southernmost border, forced to live in two worlds at once. This is an experience all Americans should know about. — Sonia Manzano, author of Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx

Elva’s novel is more than a coming-of-age story; it tells a story that history would be incomplete without. It is a story of bravery, family, and humanity, one that everyone should know. — Latin é

AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS is an engrossing, enlightening portrayal of life along the Mexican–American border in the late 1960s. Marta Elva’s sensitive insights draw a straight line to family and societal issues in today’s headlines.   — Annamaria Alfieri, author of the critically-acclaimed Strange Gods

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Marta Elva’s debut novel, AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS, provides an engaging look at the human cost of the turbulent 1960s along the Mexican-American border. Deftly conveyed through the eyes of an innocent and vulnerable fourteen-year-old girl and her family, this well-written saga could just as easily reflect contemporary times. It is insightful, timely, and rich with meaning. ­   — Pam Webber, author of The Wiregrass 

Marta Elva has written a coming-of-age novel that perfectly captures the feel, fear, fun and uncertainty of the late 1960s.  I was hooked on this delightful story from the very first page. And the characters stayed with me long after the final word.  — Melanie Payne, columnist “Tell Mel,” The News-Press, Ft. Myers, FL

Marta Elva’s AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS is both a moving coming-of-age story and a compelling tale of border intrigue that goes back in time to give a human face to some of the most divisive and hotly debated issues facing contemporary America. Elva shows an uncanny knack for dialogue and plot as in each chapter she moves back and forth among her characters, unrolling the narrative through each individual’s unique point of view. — Michael Winship, senior writer, Moyers & Company, PBS


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Marta_Elva_hi_res.jpg  Photo credit: Gail Berreitter
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About Marta Elva

Marta Elva, American TumbleweedsMarta Elva was born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas. Her career as a writer, producer, editor, and camera operator in television and independent film spans over three decades and includes several Emmy-nominated shows, notably PBS WNET New York’s Setting the Stage. She and her husband live on Florida’s Gulf Coast.



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