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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Silvana Goldemberg
Age Range: 12+
After Victoria’s mother died, she and her twin younger brothers go to live with her aunt Marta and her boyfriend Juan. Life is harsh for Victoria; she can no longer go to school and instead must clean the house, cook the meals, iron clothes and deliver them to clients. As well as the everyday drudgery Victoria must also fend off her aunt’s boyfriend’s unwanted attention. Finally, in desperation, after Juan attempts to molest her and fearing the worst, Victoria runs away from her tormentor and into the streets of Parana, Argentina.
Fourteen-year-old Victoria is now homeless and she has to adapt to living on the streets like countless other children. By washing car windscreens, cleaning at a café and selling flowers she somehow manages to survive. Through the kindness others, such as the café owner Moustache, his cook Cacho and waiter Beto, her friendship with Marko, a street boy who is mixed up with the wrong crowd and Andrés who wants to become a footballer, Victoria is able to stay safe despite her encounters with the darker side of street life and Marko’s unsavoury and violent gangster acquaintances who deal in drugs and guns.
Argentinean-born writer Silvana Goldemberg captures the colourful and dangerous atmosphere of street life in Paraná with her rich prose which has been beautifully translated from Spanish by Emilie Smith. Hardworking and inventive, Victoria is vulnerable but shows a true strength of character as she determines to keep her dream of becoming a teacher alive despite the desperation of her situation.
At the back of the book there is a useful glossary of Spanish vocabulary and translated song lyrics.