Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hurricane by Terry Trueman

Terry Trueman is known for short, hard-hitting novels that are edgy and a little bit controversial. This is a switch for him. Hurricane is about a Honduran family whose village is nearly destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The story is told through the eyes of José, a young teenager, who must take on adult responsibilities because his father and older siblings are missing (and possibly dead). The village of La Rupa is devastated by a mudslide, leaving more than half of the people dead. In the hours and days following the disaster José works to save lives, find dead bodies, uncover buried food, and get help for his sick brother. I have a particular interest in this story because I traveled to a village in Nicaragua that was destroyed by a mudslide in Hurricane Mitch. Two years later the people still lived in squalor in a Red Cross tent city. The despair and hopelessness was something I will never forget. Fortunately for young readers, Trueman's story ends on a hopeful note (perhaps unrealistically). I think American kids might have trouble picturing rural Honduras, but once they get into the story of José's survival they will be hooked.

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