SO LOUD A SILENCE by Lyll Becerra de Jenkins


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A moiled, disappointingly passionless view of a people burdened by grief and fear after years of unchecked violence. Told that his aunt Petrona is ill, Juan, 17, leaves his family in Bogot for Punts Verde, her country estate, where he learns that it's not sickness, but loneliness and fear that have prompted her request for company. Fear of what? Despite plenty of hints, Juan repeatedly needs to have it spelled out: Military troops and guerilla forces have become interchangeable in their terrorist tactics and lack of discipline, and the death toll has been rising almost daily. Juan meets a confusingly large number of campesinos, and Jenkins (Celebrating the Hero, 1993, etc.) shields him, and readers, from any direct experience with soldiers or mayhem--it's all secondhand or offstage. Several subplots are shoehorned in: Petrona reveals that she's actually his grandmother; and while revelations about his father's past are changing Juan from an archetypally sullen teen to a loving son, he meets and falls for Chia, a librarian who, after plenty of clumsy foreshadowing, is killed by a bomb. There is little sense of place and no reason given for the violence. Also missing is the terrifying immediacy of Frances Temple's A Taste Of Salt (1992) and, as is found in Louise Moeri's The Forty-Third War (1989), a clear vision of a society in which warfare is endemic.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
Page count: 156pp
Publisher: Lodestar