Brutality and poverty threaten the life of a young girl in Paraná, Argentina.
At 14, Victoria Díaz has already lost both parents: one to domestic violence and the other to apathy. She and her younger, twin brothers live with an aunt and her boyfriend in Doña Norma’s house until the boyfriend’s sexual advances cause Victoria to run away. While she meets some well-meaning strangers, the streets of the city are rough, teeming with gang members, drug dealers and other unsavory characters. Victoria must navigate this chaotic world while trying to get back into school and reunite with her brothers. Native Argentine Goldemberg has an unending supply of obstacles to put in Victoria’s path. The author dedicates the novel to “the children who suffer from violence and poverty,” but she almost makes a mockery of their suffering through a combination of two-dimensional characters, hackneyed dialogue, unbelievable coincidences, poor transitions and a very tidy ending. Spanish and Italian words and South American slang provide some initial interest in the otherwise lackluster conversations, but they soon wear, especially when combined with the snippets of song lyrics scattered throughout the novel.
Teen readers need realistic novels set in contemporary Latin America that capture culture while avoiding stereotypes, but Goldemberg’s effort fails to engage. (glossary, song list) (Fiction. 12-16)