If I Die in Juarez

If I Die in JuarezIf I Die In Juarez, Arizona author Stella Pope Duarte’s most recent novel is a compelling fictionalization of the grotesque and inhumane murders of young women in Juarez, Mexico.  The interwoven stories of three young women caught up in the gritty, desperately poor, and corrupt world of Juarez evoke feelings of helplessness, anger, and ultimately resignation in the reader.  I was captivated by the story because it felt so real.

Forced out of the house by her alcoholic mother, 13-year-old Evita takes to the streets and struggles to survive, falling into prostitution and drug trafficking. Petra, Evita’s beautiful 19-year-old cousin, moves with her family from a mountainous region of Mexico to Juarez to seek treatment for her dying father. The daughter of Petra’s family friend, Mayela, a 12-year-old Tarahumara Indian, ends up in an orphanage in Juarez where her artistic talent is discovered. Over the course of the novel, the girls are stripped of their childhoods and face grotesque realities that stalk the streets, even under the guise of protection.

In the end, this story cut its way into my consciousness, angering me that this brutality is still occurring, with no end in sight.  Everyone in this novel is struggling to survive in a world where they are both powerless and insignificant.  In order to survive, many are forced to ignore or becoming immune to the humanity of others, further diminishing themselves and everyone around them.  The desperation that I felt for the characters was overwhelming at times, but compelled me to keep reading, wishing that some sense of justice would triumph. Stella’s courage and conviction to share the plight, fear, and anguish, but also the love, strength, and hope of the people of Juarez is truly remarkable.

  • Posted by Cori

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