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Accustomed to his impoverished life in Bogota+a7, Colombia, Juan Guillermo resents his family and is delighted when a visit to his wealthy grandmother introduces him to the comforts of money, but he learns a savage truth that puts his family in danger.
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A moiled, disappointingly passionless view of a people burdened by grief and fear after years of unchecked violence. Told that his aunt Petrona is ill, Juan, 17, leaves his family in Bogot for Punta Verde, her country estate, where he learns that it's not sickness, but loneliness and fear that have prompted her request for company. Fear of what? Despite plenty of hints, Juan repeatedly needs to have it spelled out: Military troops and guerilla forces have become interchangeable in their terrorist tactics and lack of discipline, and the death toll has been rising almost daily. Juan meets a confusingly large number of campesinos, and Jenkins (Celebrating the Hero, 1993, etc.) shields him, and readers, from any direct experience with soldiers or mayhem--it's all secondhand or offstage. Several subplots are shoehorned in: Petrona reveals that she's actually his grandmother; and while revelations about his father's past are changing Juan from an archetypally sullen teen to a loving son, he meets and falls for Chia, a librarian who, after plenty of clumsy foreshadowing, is killed by a bomb. There is little sense of place and no reason given for the violence. Also missing is the terrifying immediacy of Frances Temple's A Taste Of Salt (1992) and, as is found in Louise Moeri's The Forty-Third War (1989), a clear vision of a society in which warfare is endemic. (Fiction. 11-13) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-10-In the mountains of Colombia, Juan visits his "aunt" who turns out to be his grandmother, leaving behind the city and poverty. Life with Do?a Petrona is luxurious, but gradually Juan becomes aware that both the army and guerillas are terrorizing the community. In his naivete, he bounces between the bold words of young rebels and the restraint and safety his grandmother advocates. Death is inevitable, though offstage, and the book ends without resolving how one should act, except to love one's family. This is a book with strong contrasts and readers ready for murky plots may enjoy the push-pull as the author presents first one point of view and then the other. Others will feel she is being unfair in never clarifying exactly what is happening or who is to be trusted and who is not. De Jenkins does not keep readers involved with her characters and their pain. Fragmented and uneven, the offstage figures are often more intriguing than Juan, who is far from appealing. Since books that give an authentic picture of life in South America are few, those in need will purchase this one. Those looking for a superb encore to de Jenkins's earlier books are bound to be somewhat disappointed, wishing for more depth than they are given here.
Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Dutton, 1996. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0525675388
Book Description Dutton, 1996. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0525675388
Book Description Dutton, 1996. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110525675388