An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this “lyrically ambitious tale of exile and reunification” (Kirkus Reviews) from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.
Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until one day when warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates start disappearing from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.
The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents—her educated, generous, kind parents—must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” Before they do, however, they send Celeste to America to protect her.
As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?
Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet’s catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful.
Agos n's rich, expansive novel, based on true events in Chile during the 1970s, covers three turbulent years in Celeste Marconi's life. Sixth-grader Celeste, surrounded by a loving family and lively friends, basks in the natural beauty of coastal Valpara so, befriending pelicans, dreaming, and writing on her rooftop, which overlooks the harbor. Her idyllic life abruptly ends when a dictatorship takes over Chile, killing the Socialist president and removing his supporters people like Celeste's idealistic parents, doctors who run a clinic for the poor. Classmates begin to disappear, her parents go into hiding, and Celeste is sent to a small Maine town to live with her aunt, where she struggles with homesickness, anxiety about her parents, learning English, and making friends. As Celeste slowly comes to feel comfortable in Maine, Agos n explores the relentless mixed emotions of having two homes especially well. "It's like I have one foot on Juliette Cove and the other in Butterfly Hill," thinks Celeste. The book's length and broad scope may intimidate some readers, but the realistically bittersweet ending is rewarding. Art not seen by PW. Ages 10 14. Author's agent: Jennifer Lyons, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.