An Uninterrupted View of the Sky

304p. Philomel. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399169007.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Seventeen-year-old Francisco wears violent anger just under his skin, despite a tranquil life with his parents and eight-year-old sister in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 1999. He and his family are irrevocably affected by Law 1008, a statute initiated in response to U.S. threats of economic sanctions, which seeks to find and imprison individuals connected to coca production. Francisco's father, a taxi driver, is arrested while taking gasoline to his stopped car, charged with the intention of making cocaine with the gas, and placed in an overcrowded, dangerous men's prison. His mother visits with the children and without warning deserts them there, leaving Francisco feeling gutted. He assumes the role of primary caregiver for his sister, transporting her to and from school and the prison where they must now live. Always at odds with his father over his studies and future goals, Francisco promises to graduate from high school to give the man some hope, despite knowing that his own dark skin and short stature seal his fate in a stratified Bolivian society where the indigenous remain poor and victimized. Themes of poverty, social injustice based on ethnicity, violence toward women, coming-of-age, romantic love, and a sliver of precarious hope are woven into the plot.
VERDICT This poetic, historical novel is an important addition to libraries given its focus on the consequences of U.S. involvement in Bolivian politics.

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