With a loving and financially secure family and a close group of friends, 11-year-old Celeste’s life in Valparaíso, Chile, is relatively carefree—until the coup that unseats the president and establishes a dictatorship.
People begin to be disappeared. Her parents, both doctors running a clinic for the poor, are now subversives who must go into hiding in order to keep themselves and Celeste safe. As the situation worsens, Celeste herself must leave her homeland to stay with her aunt in faraway Maine. She spends three years in this cold and solitary land. As she finally begins to fit in, the time comes to return home. She finds her country different, filled with the fog of sadness. But she also finds opportunities: to reconnect, rebuild and forgive. Though the size and scope of this novel may appear daunting, the beautiful language, compelling characters and short chapters make it a captivating read. For some, the extensive denouement may go on a touch too long, but most will be pleased to have a little extra time with Celeste as she and her community rebuild their lives in a new Chile.
Award-winning Chilean author and poet Agosín’s debut for young people is a lyrically ambitious tale of exile and reunification. (Historical fiction. 10-14)