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A Place Called Milagro de la Paz
by Manlio Argueta

Category: Fiction / General
203 pages; ISBN: 1880684683

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen


Set in contemporary El Salvador, this novel looks at the strength and courage of a single mother and her daughter, who carry on after the murder of the mother's older daughter, in a world of extreme poverty and oppression.

Latina, the mother, and Crista, the younger daughter, live in a small village in the shadow of a volcano, selling flowers and some handmade clothing to get by. One day, a nine-year-old girl named Lluvia appears and adopts the family. orphaned by the war, and saying that she comes from a village higher up on the volcano, Lluvia is characterized by having butterflies in her hair, all the time.

This takes place against a background of evil forces. First, there is a sort of vigilante group called The Unknown Men who have an age-old grudge against the poor, and spend their nights killing and stealing. On the other side are the soldiers stationed at a nearby barracks, whose official purpose is to protect the people against criminals (those who would stir up the people by speaking out against the repressive laws under which they are forced to live).

This is a fine piece of writing. It may take some effort on the part of the reader, but the universal themes like life, love and death among marginalized people are compassionately explored. It is really good.


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