Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrinos is one of those books that really highlight for me the differences between my childhood and those of the characters in the book.
Set in 1984 in Central America, this book, although fiction, gives an accurate account of what life was like in Guatemala for one family that is forced to flee to America. While I was busy leading a carefree childhood filled with television shows, playdates and bike rides, Tomasa and her siblings were trekking across countries hiding from guerillas who were burning her village and killing innocent people. She and her family are separated when her mother and oldest brother flee so that they can keep Carlos, her brother, out of the army. They plan to reunite, but the rest of the family must flee to save themselves and end up trying to enter Mexico three times before having success. They eventually are taken in and tranported via a modern day Underground Railroad which helps Central American refugees.
This story is fascinating and Pellegrinos own work in this area gives her book authenticity. I especially like stories that I feel a connection to; aside from the fact that I was leading a trouble-free childhood in America while these events were taking place in Central America, this story takes place shortly after my brother was adopted from El Salvador. At the time of his adoption, in 1983, I remember only my parents discussing the country as being unsafe, but don't recall details. A friend adopted a child from Guatemela a year or two prior to that, and I now wonder if the politics of that country led to my brother being chosen from a neighboring country.
Pellegrinos writing is beautiful, perhaps more appreciated by an adult or more mature reader. I would recommend this book for high schoolers, especially those who are looking for background information on Central America.