In a series of short stories that integrate English and Spanish, characters face love, loss and hard decisions, while consequences follow closely behind.
A boy witnesses his friend’s death by a stray bullet and grows up to become a protective father. A teenager gives up his last few dollars to buy a disappointing firecracker. A young man discovers his beloved grandmother needs him more than he needs her. Bertrand offers characters that inhabit their lives with a predictability that younger readers will find reassuring and older readers may find frustrating. In these microworlds, people who behave badly are punished accordingly, and those who make positive decisions are rewarded. Bertrand’s characters are well-crafted and manage to suggest lives beyond the page, but the dichotomous nature of morality in her stories can be distracting for readers who, even at a young age, know this isn’t a reflection of the real world. The stories contain many natural occurrences of Spanish vocabulary, and the Spanish version of the entire collection appears later in the book. Study questions for readers supply another layer of educational content in a book that appears written with classrooms in mind.
Despite a lack of gray area, these educational short stories make for appealing, quick reads. (Short stories. 10-13)