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Alonso, a dirt-poor teenager living in Peru, helps out at the public health clinic his mother, Magdalena, opened, so that he can see Rosa, the beautiful and wealthy daughter of the clinic’s doctor. Alonso and Rosa are both shattered when Magdalena is assassinated by a revolutionary terrorist organization. Left with no hope, Alonso might be seduced into becoming a guerrilla in the same organization that killed his mother. Rosa becomes disgusted with her father’s complacency and leaves wealth and safety behind to somehow help what is left of Alonso’s family. In this coming-of- age novel, C. A. Schmidt tells the story of how love can find its way through poverty and war.

As a journalist, Schmidt reported from Peru for many years. Her groundbreaking novel is disturbing and complex, not only because it is told from alternating viewpoints but also because the politics and savage brutality change its characters profoundly. Alonso, 15, is a poor cholos, a citified Indian who lives in a shantytown on the edge of Lima, far from the luxurious home of beautiful Rosa, who is white. His mother, Magda, organizes the community clinic where Rosa's father volunteers as a pediatrician. Rosa helps out there, and she and Alonso fall in love. Then Alonso's mother is killed when the Senderistas, the Shining Path revolutionary guerillas, bomb the clinic. They condemn Magda as a "useful fool," who is keeping the corrupt system going for the bourgeosie. The police are just as brutal as the guerillas; they are experts at murder, torture, and rape. After Alonso's drunken abusive father loses his job and the shattered family moves to a shack without electricity or water, Alonso is persuaded to join the guerillas in the mountains. Can he prove himself and kill? Should he? Will his love for Rosa survive? The Romeo and Juliet love story will grab some readers; others will be drawn to the haunting, intense issues of politics and justice and the character of a loving teen so desperate that he joins murderous rebels. At the heart of the tale is the question, "When is a terrorist a freedom fighter?" —Booklist, starred review

  • Pages: 272 Pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Imprint: Dutton Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN: 9781440679230
Penguin Teen