A Canadian teenager must decide if she knows what’s best for her Dominican best friend.
Every summer, Dian travels to the small Dominican Republic village of Cucubano with her doctor parents. Now 13, Dian would like to enjoy a “normal Canadian teenager” summer, but they drag her along again nonetheless. Once there, she discovers that her best friend, 14-year-old Aracely, is engaged. Dian cannot understand why Aracely would choose a typical village life over the chance to study to become a doctor in Canada. As a socially aware only child, Dian is a believably mature, introspective narrator whose fears for her friend feel justified. But when her disapproval threatens their friendship, readers will wrestle along with Dian as she decides whether to trust her friend or to be her savior. Dian’s growth is succinctly chronicled as she evolves from a child struggling to form an identity apart from her parents (“parents like mine, who expect you to spend every waking moment saving the world”) into a confident young woman (“I’m trying to help people, but I’m not raging at the world and refusing to enjoy life....It’s about balancing”). Mulder’s spare prose neither makes light of a delicate issue nor paints it with a broad brush.
Quietly perceptive and provocative. (Fiction. 10-14)