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.