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Summary: Life is good! Jose Cruz didn't realize just how good until he opened the front door the morning after Hurricane Mitch tore through La Rupa, Honduras. The Cruz house was one of only two left standing after a mudslide buried the town. Those who survived moved in, and Jose stepped up as a leader. Wasn't this supposed to be his father's job? or his big brother Victor? They were missing, just like the pueblo that filled his world. This fictional story draws on Hurricane MItch (1998) to develop its plot.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 10 to 13
Reading Level: 5.7
Age of Child: Reviewed by students at North Junior High School, St. Cloud, MN, as part of the Use Your ABCs program.
Young Reader Reaction: I liked this book because it shows a kid my age going through some tough times and getting more mature. I picked the book because it sounded like a good story. I thought that it would just tell about a hurricane, not a family that experienced it. The story shows that dramatic things change people.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story is very crisp and well written. For the first two-thirds of the book it was tough to put it down, as you felt compelled to stay to see Jose's world. But as I got closer to the end, the story flattened out and there was a push to wrap it up in a happy ending. The personal "change" for Jose was stunted as a result.
Pros: Middle grade readers will be fascinated by this fast-paced story that lets them look at life-after-tragedy in the way a 13-year-old understands the world.
Cons: There are wonderful contrasts, such as the Cruz family in a very nice house on one side of town and the dilapidated Rodriguez "shack" on the other. It would have been nice to on the theme and those characters in particular to add additional depth to the story.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This book has value in introducing kids to life after a natural disaster. The author covers all of the universal elements (destruction, contaminated water, loss of property, loss of life), but makes them more personal to a teen reader by introducing them to Jose. Student reviewer: I would buy this book. It is one I want to read again.
Educational Themes: Although the characters are fictional, a lot of the post-hurricane activities and realities are not. This would be a nice complement to discussions about natural disasters or everyday heroism. As Hurricane Mitch happened in 1998, you may want to see what Honduras is like 10 years later. Although not central to the story, death does present itself as an element and may be worth exploring.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.7. The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.