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Salvador's Children: A Song for Survival (A Helen Hooven Santmyer Prize Winner) Hardcover – December, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This modest, affecting tale focuses on both Maria, the eight-year-old Salvadoran adopted by the pseudonymous Marenn, an American academic and single mother, and on Marenn's attempt to reconstruct her daughter's past. The book's first section, chronicling the author's 1984 trip to El Salvador to meet Maria, frequently lapses into gringa guilt but captures chilling details: Maria develops a rash at the sight of a uniform. In the second section, Marenn begins with a message to Maria's dead mother, then describes a daughter who expresses her bad dreams in Spanglish and asks unanswerable questions: ``Mama, why are we in this world, if we kill each other?'' As Maria begins to unburden her memories, finding disturbing resonance in images from Brueghel, her mother studies the war in El Salvador. Though this final section borrows heavily from press reports, it has a touching conclusion: at the Library of Congress Marenn and Maria discover a newspaper photo of Maria's mother that accompanied her obituary in 1982.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This book intertwines two compelling narratives: the American author's account of her adoption of an eight-year-old Salvadoran girl orphaned by the war between guerrilla and government forces during the early 1980s; and the child's eyewitness recollections of war atrocities. Marenn skillfully describes the process by which she and her new daughter adjusted to each other's language and background, providing context for Maria Jesus' brutal and poignant narrative, which portrays through words and drawings scenes of rape, throat-slitting, and mass shootings whose victims included her parents and other family members. The author's unwavering determination to help them both come to grips with what has occurred is expressed in simple yet powerfully lyrical prose. Recommended for general collections.
- Ruth M. Mara, Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Helen Hooven Santmyer Prize Winner
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio State Univ Pr (Trd); 1St Edition edition (December 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814205933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814205938
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,624,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Salvador's Children by Lea Marenn is a HHHHH book that touches the soul. A new family tree By: Lindsay Rogan "I knew that my daughter was not only herself, not only Maria de Jesus. She was all the things that her parents were; and their parents, and theirs. She was the people from her village. She was the countryside where they gathered their food and washed their clothes. She was the flowers and grasses, the mountains and rivers she had known. She was the images and the stories. All that lived on in her, even when someone else was gone. I knew she would change, but somehow in her the past would become lodged. Somehow, I knew, all of it would live on." This passage from chapter 19 in Salvador's Children by Lea Mareen describes the entire journey of the book. Starting in the cruel heat of San Salvador, a female, North American college professor adopts eight year old Maria de Jesus and quickly learns that language is not the only barrier between them. Maria, having lived through the death of her parents, disappearance of two siblings, and responsibility of taking care of her younger brothers, is mature beyond her years and ready to tell her story. Slowly as she opens up to the narrator, her story of pain, poverty, love, happiness and joy are slowly brought to life creating a new dimension to her family portrait. Now that Maria has added her life to the picture, is there anyone left to carry on her history? Will her new mother understand the importance of family? Could she love Maria the way her mother did or would she also die, leaving Maria with another loss? Does she care enough to carry on the history of a different family? Was Maria a part of her family?Read more ›
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