Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez

Azael wakes up behind bars and he can’t remember why he’s there.  He narrates his days and memories in alternating short chapters following the same structural format as Angela Johnson’s The First Part Last.  The reader visits scenes from Azael’s past in Houston, Texas, as a Salvadoran middle schooler who joins a local group of MS-13 boys.  Piecing together these memories, the reader tries, along with Azael, to piece together the reasons for his current status as a detainee, and the reasons for his bizarre participation in a therapeutic program which allows him to watch another detainee through one-way glass.  The powerful ending will leave incarcerated teen readers with much to consider.  A strong pick for bilingual older male teens asking for an independent reading novel in incarcerated settings.  The text contains numerous untranslated phrases in Spanish.  Fans of the Outsiders may also enjoy this new title.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Perez, Ashley Hope.  The Knife and the Butterfly.  Minneapolis:  Carolrhoda Lab, 2012.  Print.

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