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VOYA"Dedicated to the real Tree Girl who . . . shared her story . . . during a long Guatemalan night," this riveting coming-of-age novel chronicles the middle teen years of Gabriela Flores. At fifteen, tree climbing gives her a quiet and private sanctuary until U.S.-trained Guatemalan soldiers surround her village. She escapes two massacres that kill her teacher, schoolmates, and most of her family. Determined to save her sister and a baby whose birth she assists, the fleeing Gabriela seeks food in a pueblo. Soldiers invade it. Climbing and hiding in a tree, she witnesses rape, torture, and murder. Traveling north across the Mexican border, she reunites with her sister and the baby in a refugee camp, where she eventually offers play and schooling to the camp children. Gabriela bonds with a fellow teacher who leaves to join the guerrillas. She decides to follow but discovers that, after almost two years, her new life with a different family compels her to teach and to help others. As with the nonfiction First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (Harper Collins, 2000), this moving and poetic based-on-fact novel explores personal grief and moral responsibility in the face of brutality. As does Mud City (Groundwood, 2003/VOYA April 2004), it presents the challenges of the refugee camp and the pull of national and family roots. With no historical notes, this novel probably requires a reader familiar with international affairs, but it might be emotionally powerful enough to motivate the less experienced to learn more. 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 grades10 to 12). 2004, Harper Collins, 240p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.