Fleeing drug traffickers in Mexico, Juan Pablo and his best friend, Rocio, are on the run and hope to seek refuge in the U.S.
In present-day El Rosario, one of Mexico’s butterfly sanctuaries, Juan Pablo and his abuela Elena and their neighbors Rocio and her abuelo Mario find themselves surrounded by narcotraffickers in a mostly abandoned village. In an attempt to save them all from the cartel, Juan Pablo uses his grandmother’s herbs to poison the group of men—though unfortunately, within hours, the two friends lose their debilitated grandparents. Now on the run from the Hunter, the cartel’s infamous human bloodhound, the two traverse the Mexican desert, hitch rides, acquire help from benevolent strangers, and travel by water to reach safety. In a sobering episode, Juan Pablo, a bilingual reader and musician, finds himself alone in a children’s immigration detention center, where he is recruited to translate conversations. Far from a light read, the novel delves into a variety of hardships: violence and murder, hints of rape and abuse, and animals in danger (a dog is shot; a whale is trapped in netting). Drugs and narcotraffickers have affected almost everyone. Although the content is powerful, its expression is sometimes clumsy. Readers may have trouble getting past the periodic misuse of Spanish, choppy writing, and clunky transitions.
Flowers delivers an imperfect but touching contemporary novel that is sardonically relevant in its treatment of drug-trafficking, immigration, and human rights issues. (Fiction. 12-16)