An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this “lyrically ambitious tale of exile and reunification” (Kirkus Reviews) from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.
Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until one day when warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates start disappearing from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.
The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents—her educated, generous, kind parents—must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” Before they do, however, they send Celeste to America to protect her.
As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?
Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet’s catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful.
Marjorie Agosín is the Pura Belpré Award-winning author of I Lived on Butterfly Hill. She was raised in Chile by Jewish parents. Her family moved to the United States to escape the horrors of the Pinochet takeover of their country. Coming from a South American country and being Jewish, Agosín’s writings demonstrate a unique blending of these cultures. She has received the Letras de Oro Prize for her poetry, and her writings about, and humanitarian work for, women in Chile have been the focus of feature articles in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Ms. Magazine. She has also won the Latino Literature Prize for her poetry. She is a Spanish professor at Wellesley College.
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