Santa Clara University

Reviews for Reaching Out:



*Starred Review ...this sequel tells Jimenez's personal story in self-contained chapters that join together in a stirring narrative. ...Never melodramatic or self-important, the spare episodes will draw readers with the quiet daily detail of work, anger, sorrow, and hope. 

--Hazel Rochman, Booklist

"In this eloquent, transfixing account, Jimenez again achieves a masterful addition to the literature of the memoir."

--Smithsonian Magazine

"No one who reads these life stories will forget them. Jimenez reaches out to let us walk in his shoes, feel his pain and pride, joy and sorrow, regrets and hope. All three books shold be required reading for Californians. Students of Mexican heritage will see themselves. The rest of us will better understand what it takes to make this journey. And we'll all be hanging on for the next book."

--Sacramento Bee


Modern Languages and Literatures department

Prof. Francisco Jiménez

Dr. Francisco Jiménez

Welcome to the website for Professor Francisco Jiménez. Here, you can find some general biographical information, a list of all his publications, the transcript of an interview conducted back in 2002, his educational and professional background, selected book reviews for two of his recent books, study guides specifically helpful for students and educators in reading his books, Breaking Through and The Circuit, and information on the best way to contact Professor Jiménez at Santa Clara University.




"Simply written but full of beautiful details, the book should inspire every citizen of our diverse and changing world."


"Taking Hold" is an engaging, inspiring account of a migrant worker turned Ivy League graduate."

—New York Daily News

"There is a humble sincerity and earnest plainspokenness to Jiménez's prose. His ingratiating storytelling—who else could make these years of adulthood such a compelling read for teens?—make us root for him to succeed."

—Horn Book Magazine

"With characteristic grace and insight, [Jimenez] describes his new life in the grit and crush of Manhattan, the initial alienation of being a misfit among peers...and the strain of missing his family and girlfriend in California."




Francisco Jiménez emigrated with his family to California from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, and as a child he worked in the fields of California. He is currently the Fay Boyle Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. He has held various administrative positions at Santa Clara University, including Director of the Division of Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences (1981-1990), Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (1990-1994), Char, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (1997-2000) and Director of Ethnic Studies (2001-2005). Having received his B.A. from SCU and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Columbia University under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he has served on various professional boards and commissions, including the California Council for the Humanities, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC), the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Santa Clara University Board of Trustees and the Far West Lab for Educational Research and Development. He has published and edited several books on Mexican and Mexican American literature, and his stories have been published in over 100 textbooks and anthologies of literature.

In 2002, he was selected the U.S. Professor of the Year by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and in 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California. 

Other Books

The Circuit (1997)
The Circuit
Click here for reviews

Jiménez's collection of autobiographical short stories, The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (the University of New Mexico Press, 1997; Houghton Mifflin, 1999; Scholastic Press, 2000), was selected a Booklist Editors’ Choice 1997, and has received several literary awards: the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Fiction; the Americas Award; the California Library Association John and Patricia Beatty Award; a Jane Addams Honor Book Award; a New York Public Library 1999 Book for the Teen-Age; an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the FOCAL Award given by the Los Angeles Public Library System and the Reading the World Award given by the University of San Francisco.

The Circuit has been published in Spanish (Cajas de Cartón), Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Italian. The Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts adapted portions of the book for a one-act play, which has been performed in various schools and colleges in California and at the 2005 Frindge Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. Audio Bookshelf published a recording by Adrian Vargas (Cassette and CD) of the book in both English and Spanish. The Circuit was chosen for the Woodland Reads: One Book, One Community Reading Program by Woodland, California, spring of 2002, and by Napa County Reads, a community-wide reading program for fall, 2003. It was featured by the First Lady of Wisconsin in her online book club in 2004.

Breaking Through (2001)
Breaking Through
Click here for reviews

Breaking Through, the sequel to The Circuit (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). was selected a Booklist Editors’ Choice, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, a Smithsonian’s Notable Book for Children and Young Adults, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen-Age, a Notable Books for a Global Society, CBC-Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, a Parents’ Choice Award, a Choice List of Books for 2002 from Children’s and Young Adult Literature, an American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists, the American Library Association’s Pura Bupré Authors Honor Book Award, the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Book Award, and the Americas Award. It was selected for the William Allen White Children’s and Young Adult Book Award 2003-2004 Master List. It was also selected for the Silicon Valley Reads: One Book, One Community Reading Program for the winter, 2003, and by Jefferson County, Oregon, Community Read Program, Spring 2005. Houghton Mifflin published his Spanish translation of Breaking Through in 2002 under the title Senderos fronterizos. Recorded Books, Inc. released an audiocassette recording of it in 2003. It was published in Japanese in 2005 and selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association for "We the People" Bookshelf program for 2008.

Reaching Out (2008)
Reaching Out

Reaching Out, the sequel to Breaking Through, follows the narrator's journey from high school through college. Leaving his home in Bonetti Ranch, a migrant community of dilapidated army barracks with no indoor plumbing or drinkable water, he sets off for college. He leaves behind a family struggling to pay for food and rent and a desperate broken father. Carrying memories of years of poverty and prejudice with him, he enters a world different from his own, and one in which he struggles not only with self-doubt about succeeding academically but also with finding work to send enough money home.

Yet as he types other student's papers in exchange for clothing, as he studies hard, as he meets with unexpected kindness, he uses those very memories of struggle and his family's values to see his way alla de mi

His book, The Christmas Gift/El regalo de Navidad, an illustrated bilingual book for children, received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, selected a Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association, Américas Commanded List Award and the Cuffie Award from Publisher’s Weekly for “Best Treatment of a Social Issue.”