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Useful Fools by C.A. Schmidt

Useful Fools

Best Seller
Useful Fools by C.A. Schmidt
Aug 16, 2007 | ISBN 9781440679230

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  • Aug 16, 2007 | ISBN 9781440679230 | Young Adult

    Available from:

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As a journalist, Schmidt reported from Peru for many years. Her groundbreaking novel is disturbing and complex, not only because it is told from alternating viewpoints but also because the politics and savage brutality change its characters profoundly. Alonso, 15, is a poor cholos, a citified Indian who lives in a shantytown on the edge of Lima, far from the luxurious home of beautiful Rosa, who is white. His mother, Magda, organizes the community clinic where Rosa’s father volunteers as a pediatrician. Rosa helps out there, and she and Alonso fall in love. Then Alonso’s mother is killed when the Senderistas, the Shining Path revolutionary guerillas, bomb the clinic. They condemn Magda as a “useful fool,” who is keeping the corrupt system going for the bourgeosie. The police are just as brutal as the guerillas; they are experts at murder, torture, and rape. After Alonso’s drunken abusive father loses his job and the shattered family moves to a shack without electricity or water, Alonso is persuaded to join the guerillas in the mountains. Can he prove himself and kill? Should he? Will his love for Rosa survive? The Romeo and Juliet love story will grab some readers; others will be drawn to the haunting, intense issues of politics and justice and the character of a loving teen so desperate that he joins murderous rebels. At the heart of the tale is the question, “When is a terrorist a freedom fighter?” —Booklist, starred review

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