Omar S. Castaneda Imagining Isabel

ISBN 13: 9780525674313

Imagining Isabel

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9780525674313: Imagining Isabel
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The sequel to Among the Volcanoes portrays the intellectual and political transformation of a young Mayan woman who leaves her Guatemalan village to attend a special program for teachers.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 7-12-Against a backdrop of political violence and cultural conflict in modern Guatemala, Isabel Pacay Choy, 15, discovers her inner strength and self-worth. In this sequel to Among the Volcanoes (Lodestar, 1991), the young woman continues to confront responsibilities after her marriage to Lucas and the death of her mother. But the arrival of a letter from the National Education Commission inviting her to become a teacher trainee opens a door to opportunity. With pride, anxiety, and her little sister in tow, Isabel enrolls in the eight-week program in the town of Solola, where she quietly absorbs the different viewpoints of her roommates on politics and women. When a stroll outside the school leads her to the corpse of a political victim, Isabel is terrified. She is later questioned and threatened. In spite of these frightening experiences, she is determined to finish her education, and later discovers that they were staged to test her character and commitment. Nina, one of her roommates, reveals to Isabel that she is now part of a national "network of trust" fighting military oppression. As a teacher in her village, she can now work for both the education and just treatment of her people. Isabel's political awakening is embedded in a story full of family affection and simplicity. Characters are distinct, customs are interwoven, and the plot unfolds steadily. Despite differences in setting and culture, readers will find a universality in Isabel's concern for loved ones and safety, her desire to fulfill a dream, and her insecurity in the face of tough decisions.
Gerry Larson, Chewning Middle School, Durham, NC
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Caste¤eda's fine first novel, Among the Volcanoes (1991), described Isabel's struggle to get medical help for her mother in the face of the Mayan traditions of her Guatamalan village and the opposition of her fianc‚, Lucas. The present book opens with their marriage, her mother's death, and a letter offering Isabel a chance to become a teacher, a dream Lucas now supports. Though the program lasts only a few weeks and students get stipends exceeding their needs, there are difficulties: Isabel's family now depends on her, and Lucas's parents and grandparents must also agree to her going. This is achieved in a debate marvelous for its indirection, a telling contrast to the more direct discourse Isabel encounters at the small government-run school. Life under the threat of warring soldiers and guerrillas has also rendered the other naturally affectionate Mayan women secretive and cautious, inhibiting both the communication of ideas and the sharing of the terrible troubles they have all experienced. Still, instructional techniques are taught; more importantly, after a suspenseful sequence in which Isabel's support is sought against the terrorists, the women become more open with one another, and she learns to ``imagine'' herself as a strong woman whose true calling is to teach and to nurture her family. Told in a vivid, lyrical style, rich in details of Mayan culture and Guatamalan life and politics, a novel with characters who are not only well realized as individuals but also effectively embody the groups and viewpoints contending for their ravaged country. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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