About JOURNEY OF DREAMS
Helicopters slash through the air like machetes, soldiers patrol the roads hunting down guerillas… for the peaceful highlanders of Guatemala, life has become a nigthmare. Tomasa’s mother has to go into hiding with her eldest son, and when they see their house razed to the ground and the villages mascared, Tomasa, Muelito and baby Maria set off with Papa on a perilous journey north to find Mama and Carlos. This is Tomasa’s story of how her family survives the Guatemalan army’s ‘scortched earth’ campaign, and how their love, loyalty to each other and Papa’s storytelling keep them going on their harrowing search for refuge in the United States.
When I first received this ARC, I was skeptical that the author could do a good job with a family saga in a YA setting and maintain the level of tension necessary to hold my interest. Pellegrino manages to do just that as well as develop the many characters from the large family she’s created–well. She tells a horribly sad and profoundly important story in a way that makes you feel better for having read it.
Pellegrino is very good with descriptions and in my opinion it is her care with orienting the reader with description that makes the book. You are there with the family as Papa is about to be shot or as the helicopter “thwaps” in the distance. Sound and vision are important elements in this story. Pellegrino masterfully uses something as simple as the sound of crickets to clue the reader in to important information.
“Each footstep is like a string wrapped by a thread, marking another piece of our journey. Only God knows how large the fabric will grow or how long our lives will be.” Pellegrino further draws the reader into the story with great literary comparisons. Pellegringo could easily have gotten bogged down in the weight of the subject matter but the novel is fast-paced and definitely worth reading. One caution–some might find words they don’t know distracting (usually words or phrases in Spanish) distracting but there is a glossary in the back of the book (genius).
JOURNEY OF DREAMS is published by Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, a UK publisher.