Killer's Tears [NOOK Book]

Overview

On the afternoon when Angel Allegria arrives at the Poloverdos’ farmhouse, he kills the farmer and his wife. But he spares their child, Paolo–a young boy who will claim this as the day on which he was born. Together the killer and the boy begin a new life on this remote and rugged stretch of land in Chile.

Then Luis Secunda, a well-to-do and educated fellow from the city descends upon them. Paolo is caught in the paternal rivalry between the ...
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Killer's Tears

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Overview

On the afternoon when Angel Allegria arrives at the Poloverdos’ farmhouse, he kills the farmer and his wife. But he spares their child, Paolo–a young boy who will claim this as the day on which he was born. Together the killer and the boy begin a new life on this remote and rugged stretch of land in Chile.

Then Luis Secunda, a well-to-do and educated fellow from the city descends upon them. Paolo is caught in the paternal rivalry between the two men. But life resumes its course . . . until circumstances force the three to leave the farm. In doing so, Angel and Luis confront their pasts as well as their inevitable destinies–destinies that profoundly shape Paolo’s own future.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
French author Bondoux's (The Destiny of Linus Hoppe) evocative and beautifully translated story reaches into the icy soul of a murderer and chronicles the warming effect of a needy and innocent boy. Set on the southernmost tip of Chile, the novel begins as Angel, a wanderer, arrives at young Paolo's house and kills his parents but spares Paolo, who can bring him water and cook him soup. Over time, Angel becomes attached to the boy as they build a new life together. But then another traveler, Luis, who is a good and learned man, stops in to stay, and Angel becomes more possessive of Paolo. Eventually this conflict leads to a bad end for Angel when they make a three-day journey to the city to purchase more animals. By then readers will have grown as attached to the two odd men and the lonely boy as the characters have become to each other. When Angel is jailed, Paolo is forbidden to see him and is warned that it is "not normal" to love a murderer. "He hoped his heart would wear out and stop beating. What other way was there to stop loving someone?" If not for the mention of surveillance cameras in the town's bank, this tale could be set almost anytime, considering that the trio travels on horseback and relies upon livestock for food. An affecting fable-like style and absorbing narrative sustain this unusual story to its redemptive conclusion. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Angel, a wanted murderer escaping authorities, happens upon a poor family in a remote area in Chile. After killing the parents, Angel forges a bond with their young son, Paolo. This relationship is challenged with the arrival of Luis, a wealthy and educated man who is trying to sort out his life, and Luis and Angel compete for the affections of Paolo. After several years, when the three travel to the city to purchase supplies, Luis meets a young woman and takes off with her, and a series of events are set in motion that culminate with the arrest of Angel and the placement of Paolo in a foster home. Angel's search for redemption by associating and caring for Paolo after he kills the young child's parents is what drives this story. The author uses characterization and dialogue to skillfully contrast the violent and conflicted Angel with the innocent and unworldly Paolo and to portray the desolation and loneliness of the setting. This powerful novel is a beautifully written moral tale that is sure to challenge readers to examine their views on forgiveness and rehabilitation, on whether violence is ever necessary, on how environment can influence human actions, and on the very nature of love. Winner of the Prix Sorcieres and translated from the French, this book's brevity and simplicity make it a good choice for a read aloud, while the depth of the story line is sure to ignite classroom discussions on a myriad of moral issues, including the death penalty. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Delacorte, 224p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—ChrisCarlson
KLIATT
This deceptively simple tale, a prizewinner in France, is in fact a haunting exploration of guilt and innocence, and of the redemptive power of a loving relationship. With a map to guide us, readers are transported to the southern tip of Chile, a place of desolation, where the story begins with a killer taking refuge at an isolated farm. Paolo, a young boy of indeterminate age, perhaps five, perhaps ten, lives there with his parents. Angel, the killer, murders the parents and allows Paolo to live because he sees him as useful. Some time later, another wanderer named Luis takes shelter with them, and a strange dynamic starts to occur--Angel worries that Paolo might like the other person better. He claims to be Paolo's father, and so begins an emotional attachment such as Paolo has never before experienced in his miserable life. Time passes, Paolo learns to read and write from Luis, and it becomes necessary for the three of them to journey to a town to purchase more farm animals so that they can survive. At the town, Angel is identified as a wanted fugitive, Luis finds love with a young artist and escapes with her, and Paolo wants to die. Literally. It takes Angel to rescue him and help him to be attached to life: it is Angel's tears, a killer's tears, which change everything for both Angel and Paolo. It seems necessary to describe the story in some detail to explain just how different this is from the YA fiction genre we know. I am reminded of The Giver, in that simplicity is employed to look deeply at the great themes of life--an allegorical device. The writing is excellent, and the translation from the French works well. I can imagine this book being used in classrooms, either inthe original French, or in translation, to illustrate the power of language and story to engage the imagination and encourage thinking and discussion. KLIATT Codes: JSA*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Random House, Delacorte, 163p. map., Ages 12 to adult.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Young Paolo Poloverdo's complex life is recounted in this translation of the winner of the French Prix Sorcieres. Set in a remote location in Chile, the story begins when a boy's parents have their throats cut by a vagrant. In a rare moment of compassion, the murderer, Angel Allegros, decides not to kill the child. Paolo's response to these events is curiously distant, as is the entire narrative. The boy is vaguely upset by, yet matter-of-fact about, his parents' deaths. A second visitor, Luis Secunda, eventually appears and Paolo dispassionately asks Angel not to stab the man because he does not feel like digging another grave. The three settle into an uneasy routine, with the adults vying to be Paolo's father figure. A necessary trip to buy livestock is the catalyst for a number of tragic and perhaps inevitable events, including betrayal, an attempted suicide, and capital punishment. The major plot line concerns Angel's awakening conscience. Through his relationship with the boy, he begins to see the importance of life and love. While the book's haunting, melancholy air will keep readers turning pages, the complex yet remote telling gives it the feel of South-American literature, which may hold more appeal for adults than for teens.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This poignant, lyrical story tells of an adult's discovery of love more than of a child's growth. Paolo is an unloved child on a desolate farm in southern Chile, whose life unexpectedly takes a turn for the better when Angel Allegria, a ruthless murderer, kills Paolo's parents merely to steal their home. Angel is unwilling to kill a child, and Paolo's grave silences touch his rarely used emotions. An unlikely friendship grows between the two, with Angel determined to win Paolo's love. Other potential father figures-the traveler who teaches Paolo to read, the poetic and literary old lumberjack-compete for Paolo's affections. Though Angel is redeemed and reborn through his relationship with Paolo, he can't outrun his past crimes. This spare but emotionally charged story is stylistically adult; the child protagonist acts primarily as an innocent prop to allow Angel's redemption. Once he enters his own adulthood, Paolo emerges as a fully formed character, a product of the men he met in his youth. A lovely story for the right audience. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307486738
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/18/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 858,834
  • Age range: 12 years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Anne-Laure Bondoux is the author of Life as It Comes, The Destiny of Linus Hoppe and The Second Life of Linus Hoppe. She lives in France.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

chapter one

No one ever arrived here by chance. Here was nearly the end of the world, close to the southernmost tip of Chile, which resembles lace in the cold Pacific waters.
On this land, everything was so tough, desolate, and abused by the wind that even the stones seemed in pain. Yet just before the desert and the sea, a narrow, gray-walled structure emerged from the ground: the Poloverdo farm.

Travelers who reached this point were surprised to find a house. They would walk down the path and knock on the door to ask for a night's lodging. Most times, the traveler was a scientist, either a geologist with a box of stones, or an astronomer in quest of a dark night. Sometimes it was a poet. Other times simply an adventurer looking for spots yet undiscovered and far from the beaten path.

So rare were such visits that each one seemed like a big event. The Poloverdo woman would pour a drink from a chipped pitcher with shaky hands. The Poloverdo man would force himself to say two words to the stranger so as not to seem too boorish. But he was still a boor, and his wife unfailingly poured the wine outside the glass. All the while the wind would hiss through the disjointed window, sounding like the howling of wolves.

When the visitor departed, the man and the woman would close their door with a sigh of relief. Their solitude resumed its course on the desolate moor, among the rocks and the violent elements.

The Poloverdos had a child. A boy, who was born out of their bedroom routine, without particular love, and who grew like all the rest on this land, that is to say not very well. He spent his days hunting for snakes. He had dirt under his nails, his ears had been so beaten down by storms that they looked like flaps, his skin was yellow and dry, and his teeth were as white as pieces of salt. His name was Paolo. Paolo Poloverdo.

Paolo was the one who saw the man arrive on the path, one warm January day. And he was the one who ran to warn his parents that a stranger was coming. Except that this time, it was not a geologist, or an adventurer, and even less a poet. It was Angel Allegria. A vagrant, a crook, a mur-derer. And he was not arriving by chance at this house at the end of the world. The Poloverdo woman took her pitcher. Her eyes met those of Angel Allegria--small eyes, deeply set, as if pushed into their sockets by blows; eyes that betrayed a brutal wickedness. She shook more than usual. Her man sat on the bench facing the vagrant.

"Will you stay here long?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the other. He dipped his lips in the wine.

Outside, rain clouds were coming up from the sea. Paolo had gone out of the house. He was waiting for the first drops to fall, his face turned to the sky and his mouth open. Like all the creatures on this land, he was always thirsty. The poets who had come to visit had compared him to a seed planted in the bedrock, condemned never to bloom.

While the first drops came crashing down onto the dust and onto Paolo's tongue, Angel Allegria took out his knife and planted it in the man's throat, then in the woman's. On the table, the wine and the blood mingled, forever reddening the deep grooves of the wood.

This was not Angel's first crime. Death was commonplace where he came from. It put an end to debts, drunken disputes, women's deceptions, neighbors' betrayals, or simply ended the monotony of a dull day. This time it put an end to two weeks of wandering. Angel was tired of sleeping outdoors, of fleeing south a little more each morning. He had heard that this house was the last one before the desert and the sea, the ideal refuge for a hunted man. It was here that he wanted to sleep.
When Paolo came back, soaked to the bones, he discovered his parents lying on the ground, and he understood. Angel was waiting for him, knife in hand.

"Come here," Angel told him.

Paolo did not move. He stared at the sullied blade, at the hand holding the knife, at the arm that did not shake. The rain drummed on the metallic roof, as if announcing a trapeze artist's somersault at the circus.
"How old are you?" Angel asked.

"I don't know," Paolo answered.

"Can you make soup?"

Angel had a firm grip on the handle of his knife, and yet remained undecided. The child, very small, very dirty, very wet, stood in front of him, and he could not imagine putting an end to his life. An unexpected twist of his conscience, maybe a little pity, held back his arm.

"I've never killed a child," he said.

"Neither have I," said Paolo.

The answer made Angel smile.

"Can you make soup, or not?" he asked again.

"I think so."

"Make me some soup, then."

Angel put his knife away. He was sparing the child, and with some relief told himself that he did not need to kill him. The little one would not prevent him from sleeping here; besides, it would be convenient to send the boy to fetch water at the well rather than go himself.

Paolo headed for the back of the house, entered a dark recess where his mother kept some meager supplies, and soon came out with a few potatoes, a leek, a turnip, and a piece of dried-up lard. He knew how to make soup, although he had never made any. He had watched his mother so often that the recipe was imprinted in his mind. To make a fire, he only had to imitate his father's gestures. It was easy.

Once the soup was ready, he turned to Angel Allegria.

"Serve me," said the killer.

Paolo went to fetch one of his father's iron bowls, the largest one, and put it on the table, far from the blood and wine stain. He poured the soup into it.

"Eat with me," Angel ordered.

Paolo went to fetch another bowl, the smallest and most dented one, his own. He helped himself and sat on the bench, facing the man, who was already slurping his soup. The rain had stopped. It was not cold in the house, thanks to the fire that crackled in the fireplace. Behind the window, night was coming like an ocean wave about to engulf the house and drown the world. Paolo lit a candle.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Holly for TeensReadToo.com

    Can a killer love? <BR/><BR/>Is Angel's murder strike just what Paolo needs to gain his strength? <BR/><BR/>When Angel snatches the lives of Paolo's parents, Angel takes Paolo into his world. When an intelligent traveler discovers their house on the very edge of Chile, he teaches Angel how to love. <BR/><BR/>The first trip Paolo ever takes turns out to be a suicidal nightmare. <BR/><BR/>What kind of trip does this turn out to be? <BR/><BR/>THE KILLER'S TEARS tells a wonderful story of the love between a young child and a murderer. It has a wonderful word choice and is very well put together. A great read!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    a reviewer

    Can a killer love? Is Angel's murder strike just what Paolo needs to gain his strength? When Angel snatches the lives of Paolo's parents, Angel takes Paolo into his world. When an intelligent traveler discovers their house on the very edge of Chile, he teaches Angel how to love. The first trip Paolo ever takes turns out to be a suicidal nightmare. What kind of trip does this turn out to be? THE KILLER'S TEARS tells a wonderful story of the love between a young child and a murderer. It has a wonderful word choice and is very well put together. A great read!!! **Reviewed by: Holly

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    Fantastic!!!

    This books is about murder, and friendship. As the killer, Angel befriends with Paolo, a son of the person Angel killed, you find yourself heartwarming and crying. But I detested the ending. It ends with just 'Oh. He dies and Paolo meets with.....' and so on. But the story, you wont believe a human wrote that

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2007

    GREAT

    Scary, but great

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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