Saturday, April 11, 2015

Caminar by Skila Brown

This quick read on the Guatemalan Civil War is written in free verse showing the genocide of a village from the point of view of one survivor, Carlos, who is in the forest at the time. Carlos lives with his mother in Chopan when government soldiers come through looking for Communists. Carlo's mother tells him to stay away from soldiers and run if the unthinkable happens. Everyone knows that Carlos always listens to his mama. When neighbors turn on the richest man in town who is condemned without a trial, Carlos feels fear. Then Rebel soldiers come through the town. One day when Carlos is in the woods he hears the guns and screams of people in his village being killed. He hides in the trees and sets off to find his grandmother that lives up the mountain.

The ending is strong with Carlos learning to have courage and face the future. Some of the free verse is beautiful and other times not memorable. The author does an excellent job of showing a young boy that is afraid of losing his mother and the focus is on this versus the atrocities of war. The genocide is discussed only from the eyes of soldiers that say they saw bodies piled up by the lake. While some parents might not like the violence in the book it isn't graphic. Carlos describes the sounds he hears such as gunfire and laughter. He knows that bad people are in the village because no one he knew would laugh when guns were going off.

As a whole the story works, but there is not a lot of backstory. The Author's Note at the end explains the history behind what happened in Guatemala that helps the reader a bit in understanding what happened during their Civil War. The book only took me about an hour to read and is good for discussion topics on war, survival, responsibility, and courage, to name a few. Readers intimidated by a lot of text might like this as one.

3 Smileys

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