Overall, I really, really liked this -- it's a middle grade book set in Chile during the coup and then the book's protagonist, Celeste, flees to the US to live in exile during the military dictatorship. First of all, this is the first kids' book I've ever encountered on this topic, so I'm super pleased that one finally exists. Secondly, the writing is absolutely gorgeous, and the descriptions were so vivid that I felt like I was actually in Valparaiso. However -- and this was a problem for me throughout the book -- I was super frustrated by the fact that the history presented was inaccurate. Agosin chose to identify the country in question as Chile, and Celeste's hometown as Valparaiso, but then she changed a bunch of the details surrounding Chile's coup -- she changed the deposed president's name from Allende to Alarcon, she referred to "the Dictator" but never named Pinochet by name, and she had the dictatorship last a mere three years, rather than the 15+ it lasted in actuality. I don't understand why she didn't either set this in a vague, undefined South American country (especially considering how many were experiencing similar turmoil around this time), or, if she was determined to use Chile, why she didn't keep the details straight. I know that I know more about 20th century Chilean history than any kid reading this will, but I hate the idea that some of them will read this and think they're getting an accurate depiction of real events. So, the tl;dr version of this is -- I really, really, really liked this book, and wish there wasn't this one thing that stopped me from loving it.
As much as I tried I couldn't get into it.
Reading children’s historical fiction I am always amazed at how much I don’t know about other countries. Celeste’s family is torn apart by a dictator’s rule in Chile. Although never mentioned by name, Pinochet is the model. History does repeat itself, as evidenced in her grandmother’s memories of escaping the Nazis in Germany. Agosin’s description of the dictatorship as an “earthquake of the soul” is poetic language for a horrible event. Eleven-year-old Celeste’s account of the disruption of school and family puts a real face to history. Both her parents go into hiding and she emigrates to Maine, living with an aunt until the dictator is deposed. Excellent historical fiction.
Very good! It is about Pinochet.
Celeste is a great character, I think.
I like Marjorie Agosín's work!
brown_bat_62 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 99
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