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The weight of all things
Sandra Benitez
Adult Fiction BENITEZ

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Set in El Salvador during the civil war of the 1980s, Ben¡tez's third novel (after A Place Where the Sea Remembers and Bitter Grounds) seamlessly blends fact with imagination, evoking the trauma of war more vividly than any newspaper account. Nine-year-old Nicol s de la Virgen Veras lives with his grandfather Tata in Chalatenango, El Salvador, but on March 30, 1980, his mother, Lety, who works in San Salvador for Don Enrique, brings him to the city to witness the burial of a martyred saint, Archbishop Romero. In a bloodbath based on a real-life event, 35 people in the crowd of 80,000 are killed and 450 wounded by soldiers' fire. Lety dies protecting Nicol s. When her body is taken away, Nicol s cannot believe she is dead and tries first to find the hospital for the wounded, then to get home to find Don Enrique's address. As he journeys through the bleak Salvadoran landscape, Nicol s is caught in the violent clashes between the National Army and guerrilla rebels. Held at different times by each faction, Nicol s must rely on his wits and faith in the Virgin Mary if he is to survive. Ben¡tez's novel is both political and spiritual, beautifully illuminating the effects of war on the innocent. Like the Sumpul River of Nicol s's hometown, which alternately rages and soothes, Ben¡tez's style is both quiet and intense. Her achievement here is considerable; in this brief narrative, she gives voice to the silenced. Those who seek a deeper understanding of Latin American conflict and who appreciate Ben¡tez's moral stance will find the novel especially gratifying. 6-city author tour. (Feb.) FYI: Ben¡tez is donating a portion of the proceeds from The Weight of All Things to Rosie O'Donnell's For All Kids Foundation. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The unimaginable cruelty of war becomes even more horrible when seen through the eyes of a child. Ben!tez (Bitter Grounds) portrays El Salvador's recent civil war in all of its senselessness and brutality as nine-year-old Nicolas Veras makes his way through a landscape of violence. Having joined his mother in San Salvador to attend the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Nicolas survives the ensuing mayhem that kills his mother. The intrepid child makes his way back to his grandfather's farm in the hills only to discover that their village has been bombed and guerrillas have commandeered the farm. Ben!tez's depiction of casual murder and massacre is more chilling for the matter-of-fact telling. Advance notice has compared this novel to Kosinski's The Painted Bird, but there is a vast difference. Unlike Kosinski's protagonist, Nicolas is an innocent who, despite his encounters with evil, remains compassionate. With its deceptively simple narrative, The Weight of All Things tells a powerful story.DAndrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Nicolas de la Virgen Veras
Age: 9

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