Viaje a la tierra del abuelo
First young adult novel by a critically acclaimed Salvadoran writer.
by Mario Bencastro
Publication Date: May 31, 2004
Format: Trade Paperback
Imprint: Piñata Books
Ages: 11 and up
Teenager Sergio is caught between two countries. He has lived in Los Angeles since the age of six, when he emigrated from Central America with his parents. But in a country far away from his birthplace and birthright, he finds himself coming of age without any sense of a “homeland.”
But Sergio has spent many years under the strong, guiding influence of his grandfather, who lived with Sergio’s family until his recent death. Before Abuelo dies, he exacts a tough promise from Sergio. After years living in a land that is not his own, Abuelo demands to be buried in his own native soil. Sergio’s struggle to honor his mentor takes him on a dangerous mission, fraught with unexpected disasters.
Sergio’s voyage journey of self-discovery and cultural exploration that requires Sergio take control. He encounters unexpected triumphs and discoveries that will enrich the rest of his life.
Viaje a la tierra del abuelo explores critical questions of identity, homeland, and culture, issues that are grounded in the reality of immigrant teenagers who have been raised and educated in the United States. In this well-crafted and sensitive narrative, acclaimed author Mario Bencastro draws upon his own experiences working with immigrant teens to deftly examine the pressing questions and problems facing these bicultural teens.
A native of El Salvador, MARIO BENCASTRO is an award-winning novelist, playwright and painter. He took up the brush and canvas as the first outlet for his artistic expression. The medium garnered him remarkable success from an early age, with his works gracing the walls of major galleries in El Salvador, the United States, Latin America and Europe. Despite his success as a painter, the social and political drama unfolding in his country compelled him to concentrate his artistic endeavors in literature. His first novel, A Shot in the Cathedral (Arte Público Press, 1996), is a powerful work focusing on the coup d’etat in El Salvador in 1979. It was a finalist in the international Diana y Novedades Literary Prize. Publishers Weekly called it “a vivid newsreel of a country disintegrating.” His subsequent work, The Tree of Life: Stories of Civil War (1997), blends fantasy with reality to show readers the daily struggle of ordinary Salvadorans to survive the tragedy of civil war. Most recently, his work has turned north of the border as he explores the lives of Central American immigrants in the United States. Kirkus Reviews called Odyssey to the North “a heartfelt story of political oppression and exile … credible and quite moving.” While all of his work is appropriate for young adults and his novels are used in high schools across the country, he wrote a novel specifically for young people: Viaje a la tierra del abuelo (2004), or A Promise to Keep (2005). The novel, which focuses on a young Salvadoran boy raised in the United States, is part adventure and part coming-of-age as the struggle to keep a promise to his grandfather raises questions of identity, homeland and culture. In his new collection of stories, Paraíso portátil / Portable Paradise (2010), he again brings to life the impact of war and exile on a community.
ATOS Interest Level: Middle Grades
Category: Young Adult