The Immortal Boy/El Inmortal

Levine Querido. Mar. 2021. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646140442.
Gr 9 Up–Ibáñez carefully unravels a memorable parallel narrative in this dual-language novella. Set in Bogotá, Colombia, five siblings between the ages of five and 13, abandoned by their father, share a one-bedroom living space and struggle to feed themselves. Across the city, Nina has recently arrived at an orphanage following her parents’ political imprisonment. There, she becomes fascinated by a mysterious child known as the “Immortal Boy,” who chases away bullies and speaks to no one. Ibáñez slowly peels back layers to reveal their connection, and dots the story with various motifs and haunting imagery, creating a surreal tone but grounded in the stark reality of the characters. Although the Colombian setting is not fully elucidated, the underlying issues that affect the children speak to large social issues faced by the South American nation, most strikingly captured in the adults and institutions who fail at meaningful intervention. This Spanish and English edition is presented in flipbook style and translated by the award-winning Bowles.
VERDICT An unforgettable and tragic story, with many entry points for deep discussions.

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