Go and Come Back

Joan Abelove, Author DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) $16.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-7894-2476-1
First-time novelist Abelove introduces readers to a sparkling world hidden deep within the Amazonian jungle of Peru, through the eyes of Alicia, an Isabo teenaged girl. There is no word for goodbye in Isabo; when two people part, they say ""Catanhue,"" which means go and come back. Abelove exposes such subtleties of language and cultural differences as she tenuously stretches the lines of communication between the young protagonist and ""two old white ladies"" from ""the New York."" Initially, Alicia finds the pair who have come to study her cozy village stingy and wasteful. Laden with possessions, the women share none with the Isabo and suggest they move into any old house no one is using (Alicia reacts, ""Whoever heard of a house no one was using?.... It takes a long time and a lot of people to build a house""). But she gradually befriends the two ""old ladies"" (who are actually in their 20s) and teaches them about her customs, about love and death, and about generosity. With Alicia as a guide, readers experience the everyday pleasures of a good meal or a daily morning dousing in the river as well as her quiet acceptance of life's brevity. Indeed, Alicia's cognizance sounds a foreboding note: the author, who based the novel on her own experience studying such a village, writes in an endnote that whether the village or its people still exist is unknown. Abelove seamlessly constructs a culture that may feel more real to readers than their own, and juxtaposes two markedly diverse cultures who ultimately discover more commonalities than differences. Ages 11-up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/30/1998
Release date: 03/01/1998
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 192 pages - 978-0-613-28498-1
Paperback - 177 pages - 978-0-14-130694-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-18406-9
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