I Lived on Butterfly Hill
By Marjorie Agosín
Celeste Marconi loves her life on Butterfly Hill in Chile where she lives with her parents, grandmother, and nanny. She loves her school and her friends.
Then the big ships begin to arrive in the harbor near her home. More and more show up everyday, and 11-year-old Celeste becomes fearful because these are not like the fishermen’s boats; these are huge, dark ships. Now there is talk of subversives. People are afraid to offer opinions, and friends may not be friends anymore. Then when the general overthrows the elected government, things become worse.
Abuela Frida understands Celeste’s fears. She was an Austrian Jew who fled the Nazis when she was a teen. And like that time and place, people are being punished for different beliefs and ideas. People begin “disappearing,”
Celeste’s parents choose to go into hiding. As doctors who helped the elected government with programs for the poor, they are being targeted. They decide that Celeste will be better off with her abuela and Nana Delfina.
Soon more people disappear; some flee on their own and some are taken away by the government. Celeste’s class is down to half the number of students they began the year with, when her abuela decides it’s time to send her to her aunt in Maine.
For Celeste, the whole this is frightening, but she will have to remain strong to be able to write about all these things one day.
It is a beautiful story of hope and strength of the people who flee and those who stay. Students can see history in context, plus that Nazi Germany is not an anomaly. Good for middle grade through young YA.
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