After losing her parents, 14-year-old Victoria and her young twin brothers move in with their aunt. But soon after, Victoria is assaulted by her aunt's boyfriend. She runs away and has to survive life on the dangerous streets of Paraná, Argentina. Victoria crosses paths with murderous gangs and drug dealers, and even a dreaded drug lord called only The Captain. But with the help of newly found friends and her determination to survive, Victoria overcomes her difficulties and carves out a new life for herself and her little brothers.
Argentinean-born writer Goldemberg captures the colorful and dangerous atmosphere of street life in Paran , Argentina, in this story of grace under pressure. Running from her Aunt Marta's threatening boyfriend and a life of monotonous chores, 14-year-old Victoria leaves behind her younger twin brothers. Now homeless, she looks to strangers for kindness, including the proprietor of a cafe, who provides food and shelter in exchange for cleaning, and Marko, a "squeegee kid" saving for his trip home to Montevideo. But the Captain, a gangster who "owns all the corners," brings drug culture and violence to the town. Hardworking and inventive, Victoria tries to stay out of trouble and keep her promises to her late mother; she also aspires to become a teacher. Goldemberg's image-rich prose is almost painterly: "A group of teenagers walk past singing, a couple kiss on a bench in the gazebo in the middle of the peatonal, a policeman twirls his nightstick as he strides by, and an old man pushes a cart overflowing with cardboard boxes." Spanish vocabulary and translated song lyrics provide cultural verisimilitude. Ages 12 14.