cover image Red Glass

Red Glass

Laura Resau, Author . Delacorte $15.99 (275p) ISBN 978-0-385-73466-0

Suffused with the region's vibrant colors, Resau's (What the Moon Saw ) memorable novel deftly blends Latin America's richness and mystery with the brutal realities its emigrants carry away. In her Arizona border town, narrator Sophie looks on as “a woman in a dress gazed at our muddy pond, a shallow puddle of sludge and leaves that shone in the moonlight. She knelt down as though she were praying, bowed her head, and drank, cupping the dirty water to her lips.” The prose captivates from the first chapter, where a six-year-old Mexican boy, orphaned during an illegal border crossing, enters Sophie's family on her 16th birthday, inviting comparisons with her favorite fictional character, the Little Prince (Saint-Exupéry's story serves as a subtext throughout). Like him, vulnerable Pablo yearns to go home. Sophie, bound by long-held fears, emerges from her tight shell as she helps escorts him to Mexico and continues on to Guatemala to help her new love interest, a teenage survivor of Guatemala's civil war, resurrect a painful past. Central themes of fear and emotional survival permeate the multilayered plot; Resau focuses on Sophie's increasing willingness to cross physical, social and emotional borders, but most of her other characters have also faced major dislocations, from Sophie's British-born mother to the distantly related Dika, a middle-aged Bosnian refugee. A mystical overlay from the practices of Pablo's Mixtec relatives adds even more luster to a vibrant, large-hearted story. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)