USEFUL FOOLS by C.A. Schmidt


Age Range: 14 & up
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The war in Peru that lasted from 1980 to 1992 is virtually unknown to many of today’s teen readers, but this story of love and loss among political upheaval will resonate despite the unfamiliar setting. Alonso is poor; Rosa is rich; he is of mostly Indian descent while she is of European descent. But their parents run a clinic together in Alonso’s village and they love one another. When terrorists blow up the clinic, killing Alonso’s mother, Rosa retreats into her privileged life and Alonso joins the Senderistas, seeking power. Their separate journeys (and eventual reconciliation) paint a vivid portrait of a country gripped by war, corruption and misery. The author was a journalist in Peru during this period and the novel reflects first-hand knowledge as well as compassion and respect for the young people who must fight to prove themselves in such a world. Schmidt laces in some Spanish phrases and does not flinch from describing horrific scenes (Rosa’s near rape, Alonso watching an execution), but the violence is never gratuitous. A compelling, timely story. (author interview, author’s note) (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-525-47814-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2007


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