Synopses & Reviews
Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.
Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — hes still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carloss abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemalas civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.
"Writing in verse, Brown debuts with a tense coming-of-age story set amid the Guatemalan Civil War. Opening in 1981, it follows a timid boy named Carlos as he wrestles with what it means to be a man after his fictional village, ChopÃ¡n, is visited by government soldiers and, later, by a band of guerillas. Brown uses concrete poetry to excellent effect, skillfully playing with spacing, structure, and repetition. One poem is a jumble of quotations as villagers discuss the passing rebels (' Ã¢Â€Â˜We must protect our village.' Ã¢Â€Â˜They have guns.' Ã¢Â€Â˜Dios mÃo.' '). In another, Carlos argues with himself as he trudges through the forest after disaster strikes ChopÃ¡n, his thoughts (' Ã¢Â€Â˜Mama told me to run' Ã¢Â€Â˜Only boys run' ') appearing on both sides of a column of text that repeats 'I walked.' Brown offers some historical context in an opening note and a Q&A (a glossary of Spanish words is also included), but the ambiguities and uncertainties within the story itself help align readers with Carlos and his fellow villagers, caught in a conflict they don't understand. Ages 10 up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Skila Brown has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has visited Guatemala numerous times in the last decade. She lives in Indiana with her husband and their three children.