Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin - - OPTIONAL

Agosín, Marjorie I Lived on Butterfly Hill, illustrated by Lee White and translated from Spanish by E. M. O'Connor, 464 pgs. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014. $16.99.  Language: (  0 swears 0 Fs); Violence: PG; Mature Content: G.  

6th grader Celeste lives in Valparaíso, Chili with her parents, who are both doctors, her nanny and her Grandmother who is Viennese and survived the Holocaust by escaping to Chili as a teenager.  The city often experiences earthquakes, but another tremor is building up, Celeste sees warships filling the harbor and hears rumors about a military uprising, and then soldiers march into town and start burning books. When the President is killed and her parents, who are sought for being subversive (for helping the poor), go into hiding, Celeste tries to go to school like everything is OK, but as friend after friend disappears, Abuela decides it’s too dangerous for Celeste, too, and sends her north to Maine to live with her Aunt. In exile in Maine, she learns English and waits out the unrest, but when she returns, can she find the people who have disappeared? 

There were parts of this book that were gripping and exciting, and other parts that made me check ahead to see when the chapter would end.  Also, the page count on this one is daunting, and I feel the story is too slow to maintain a middle school readers attention. I wanted background knowledge to help understand the time period and the war, but other than a reference to the Beatles “Strawberry Fields” there wasn’t much to help the reader make that connection.  Also, some situations seem to have resolved easily with luck or magic.    It might make 3 interesting books, but as one offering, too much.  MS - - OPTIONAL  Lisa Librarian

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