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LIBERTAD by Alma Fullerton


by Alma Fullerton

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-55455-106-4
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Libertad picks trash for a living with his younger brother and their mother in Guatemala City. When she dies in a horrible accident, they head for Texas, clutching an address where they hope to find their father and taking along a marimba. Their talent with it brings them luck along the otherwise treacherous trip. Written in unexceptional free verse poems, the story lacks any narrative tension that such a plot would suggest, and the flatness of the language puts a formal distance between the readers and the characters. Although the book is in English, readers are to assume the characters speak and think in Spanish; yet Libertad has the disconcerting habit of occasionally translating his dialogue into Spanish (“Texas, Julio. / We’re in Texas. / We are free! / Somos libres”). And his untempered belief that their arrival in Texas solves everything (“FREE / from the garbage / FOREVER”) will strike even young readers as a little naïve. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-13)