The Weight of All Things - Sandra BenitezThe Weight of All Things - Sandra Benitez
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The Weight of All Things - Sandra Benitez

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Inspired by real events, this gripping yet poignant novel will solidify Benitez's place in the pantheon of contemporary authors writing brilliantly about the realities of Latin American life.
The last time Nicolas saw his mother, she was slumped over him, mortally wounded by gunfire that erupted in a crowded plaza during a funeral for a martyred archbishop. Watching while her body is dragged away with other victims, Nicol‡s believes that his mother is still alive. He vows to find her again, no matter what. Thus begins the young boy's harrowing journey through his war-ravaged country -- a journey that brings him face-to-face with the danger, cruelty, and violence inflicted today on so many parts of the world by terrorism and repression.

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.

 


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