Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.
Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.
Is it strange to anyone else that this is considered historical fiction?! It is set in 1981- one year before I was born! Apparently I am getting old... sure don't feel it though!
This powerful debut novel is simply amazing. Carlos lives a life that most of us could not imagine in his village, but he is happy. Things change when the soldiers come and he is faced to make the decision that no one wants to make, but we all have to at some point. The beautifully scripted prose of this novel sets readers in a place where they can feel Carlos' emotions and envision what his life is like. There are many coming-of-age novels, but this is one that will forever stick out to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this magnificent novel.
Lesson Ideas for Social Studies:
This book is a wonderful text to pair with the text when teaching this time period in history. If you do not cover this particular event in your standards, you could pair it with another event to give the students another viewpoint from another event that is similar. The Holocaust is one that comes to mind. The poems can be analyzed in isolation or as a group. There are a great many to choose from and pair with a variety of events to show the effects throughout history.
Lesson Ideas for ELA:
Where do I even start?! There is so much that you can do with this beautiful novel. Each one of the verses in this novel are stylistically different from the looks to the verbiage. This could be a mentor text for poetry, but also for teaching narrative writing. There are a multitude of possibilities that this text could be used for.
This is one of my favorites (there are so many) and I wanted to share it with you so that you could see how beautiful and powerful this novel is...
Happy reading everyone!