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Review: An Uninterrupted View of the Sky by Melanie Crowder

Title: An Uninterrupted View of the Sky
Author: Melanie Crowder
Year Published: 2017

Genre: YA fiction (historical fiction)
Pages: 279 plus glossary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)Bolivia

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Bolivia, 1999. Francisco's life consists of school, soccer, and trying to find space for himself in his family's cramped yet boisterous home. But when his father is arrested on false charges and sent to prison by a corrupt system that targets the uneducated, the poor,  and the indigenous majority, all hope is lost. Francisco and his sister are left with no choice: they must move into the prison with their father. There, they find a world unlike anything they've ever known, where everything--a door, a mattress, protection from other inmates--has its price. 

Prison life is dirty, dire, dehumanizing. With their lives upended, Francisco faces an impossible decision. Should he break up the family and take his sister to their grandparents int eh Andean highlands, fleeing the city and the future that was just within his grasp, or keep them together in the increasingly dangerous prison? Pulled between two equally undesirable options, Francisco must confront everything he once believed about the world around him and his place within it.

in this heart-wrenching and timely novel inspired by true events, Melanie Crowder sheds light on a little-known era of modern South American history--where injustice still darkens minds and hearts alike--and proves that hope can be found, even in the most desperate places.

Review: Yes! Another YA novel based on real life events. That is definitely for me. And it has the added bonus that it is set in South America, an area for which I haven't read many books.

I feel like I learned a lot by reading this book and that is something that I enjoy. I didn't know about the 1008 laws in Boliva (arresting citizens for drug issues). These laws apparently came into being at the "encouragement" of the US to slow down the drug trade. What happened instead was that thousands of innocent men were arrested and thrown in prison for years and sometimes decades. Bolivian officials wanted to show the US government that they were making an effort even though the arrests made no impact.

And the conditions in the prison! No guards inside (only outside) and prisoners have to pay money to have a cell (and be safe), eat, get furniture, etc. When the prisoners have no one on the outside to take care of their children, then the children live in the prison as well. I cannot even imagine.

Following Francisco's time in the prison was so interesting and heart breaking. He and his 8-year-old sister are allowed out to go to school, but have to be back in the prison by 6:00pm or they are on the streets for the night. The author did a really good job of showing the poverty, the distress and the cultural divide between the indigenous population and the Spanish population. I definitely felt what it was like for the main characters; their fears, desires, and their efforts to improve the situation.

Challenges for which this counts:

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