Written by Silvana Goldemberg
Tradewind Books, 2014, 134 pp.
“Victoria lies down on the cardboard and feels the chill from the cement under her. Now I’m homeless too. She shivers. But I can’t go back tonight. Not tomorrow. Not even the day after that.” (p. 23)
It is one thing to have your mother dead and your father gone, living with an aunt who seems only to hate you and your younger brothers. It is another to have your aunt’s boyfriend harassing you to the point where your safety is at jeopardy. This became Victoria’s life after her mother’s death, and the reason she runs away becoming one of the numerous homeless young people in Argentina. Yet, Victoria is smart and makes connections that keep her safe while she works to remedy her homeless situation.
Victoria is a dynamic and resourceful character that young adolescents will admire, yet not necessarily want to imitate. Her circumstances are harsh but believable, and the cast of characters she meets on the street will make for engaging dialogue with middle school students about stereotypes and assumptions about the homeless. Readers will want to find out what happens to Victoria and if her story, while not happy, might find a pathway to hope. Through much of the story, Victoria must learn to live without the love of her family and to avoid the tricks of some people who also live on the street, but eventually she learns to trust and to forge new relationships that are supportive and powerful.
A storyline that would engage middle and high school students, Victoria will make a great companion to texts such as Orphan Train (Christina Baker Kline, 2013) or Homeless Bird (Gloria Whelan, 2001), both of which address homelessness and/or alienation from family. It could also be used in a text set with books such as Slake’s Limbo: 121 Days (Felice Holman, 1986) and Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope (Kevin Ryan & Tina Kelly, 2012) as a way of examining the reasons young people run away and learn to survive on the streets. At the end of the book are a glossary of Spanish words and the list of Spanish songs noted throughout the text that would be of additional interest to readers.
Silvana Goldemberg was born and raised in Argentina. She resides in Canada and has published in both English and Spanish. She currently teaches kindergarten in British Columbia. Emilie Teresa Smith, who is also an author of children’s books, translated this book from Spanish.
Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati
WOW Review, Volume VII, Issue 1 by World of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on work at https://wowlit.org/on-line-publications/review/vii-1/