Behind the Mountains

by Edwidge Danticat

Celiane, her mother and older brother, Moy, are living in Haiti while her father... read more

Celiane, her mother and older brother, Moy, are living in Haiti while her father is in Brooklyn, New York. During the violent presidential elections in Haiti in the year 2000, both Celiane and her mother are injured in a bomb explosion. The family decides the time has come to be reunited. Celiane is sad to be leaving her beautiful country and relatives, but so eager to see Papa. Her joy fades quickly, however, overwhelmed by the changes in her life. Her new middle school in Brooklyn is huge. When she gets lost the first time she tries to get back to their apartment on her own, she feels she’s failed her Papa. At home, her father and brother begin arguing—Moy wants to pursue art, while Papa wants him to attend the university once he learns enough English. Even her parents, who had missed each other so much, are fighting. Their 2-bedroom apartment seems so very small in the midst of it all. Edwidge Danticat’s first book for young reader’s is written as journal entries in Celiane’s sensitive, first-person voice. It’s a swiftly paced novel grounded in details that lend weight and realism to Celiane’s situation as she chronicles the events in her life, which unfold to reveal both pleasures and disappointments and, ultimately, a future she looks toward with hope. Danticat briefly recounts her own story of coming to the United States from Haiti as a child in an afterword. (Ages 11-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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