TREE GIRL by Ben Mikaelsen

TREE GIRL

Age Range: 14 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

Mikaelsen offers a chilling account of the Mayan genocide in Guatemala. Rumors of war and sporadic appearances of soldiers disturb the adults in Gabriela’s small cantón (village). Gabriela wants only to think about her upcoming quinceañera (15th-birthday ceremony) and climbing the trees she loves, but on the night of the party, soldiers steal her brother. The narrative voice falters at the beginning, distractingly full of hindsight, but improves by sounding immediate in the middle. War escalates quickly into rape, torture, and horrifyingly sadistic slaughter, with the peaceful Quiché (Maya Indians) totally at the mercy of Guatemalan soldiers. Gabriela’s schoolmates and teacher are shot in front of her; her family and neighbors are murdered and the cantón burned while she’s at market. Escaping with one sister, Gabriela walks north to Mexico and eventually reaches a refugee camp. Lack of any author’s note leaves this little-known, decades-long piece of cruel history (which the UN later ruled genocide) in a void. Still, a bitter and crucial story that needs to be told. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-009004-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2004




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