Twelve-year-old Ana Rosa is a blossoming writer growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are feared. Yet there is so much inspiration all around her watching her brother search for a future, learning to dance and to love, and finding out what it means to be part of a community that Ana Rosa must write it all down. As she struggles to find her own voice and a way to make it heard, Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words to transform the world around her and to transcend the most unthinkable of tragedies.
In finely wrought chapters that at times read more like a collection of related short stories than a novel, Joseph (Jump Up Time) presents slices from the life of Ana Rosa just as she is about to turn 13. Through the heroine's poetry and recollections, readers gain a rare intimate view of life in the Dominican Republic. Ana Rosa dreams of becoming a writer even though no one but the president writes books; she learns to dance the merengue by listening to the rhythms of her beloved ocean; and the love of her older brother, Guario, comforts her through many difficulties. The author's portraits of Ana Rosa and her family are studies in spare language; the chapters often grow out of one central image--such as the gri gri tree where Ana Rosa keeps watch over her village and gets ideas for her writing--giving the novel the feel of an extended prose poem. The brevity of the chapters showcases Joseph's gift for metaphoric language (e.g., her description of Ana Rosa's first crush: "My dark eyes trailed him like a line of hot soot wherever he went"). When the easy rhythms of the girl's island life abruptly change due to two major events, the author develops these cataclysms so subtly that readers may not feel the impact as fully as other events, such as the heroine's unrequited love. Still, it's a testimony to the power of Joseph's writing that the developments readers will empathize with most are those of greatest importance to her winning heroine. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|