This book intertwines two compelling narratives: the American author's account of her adoption of an eight-year-old Salvadoran girl orphaned by the war between guerrilla and government forces during the early 1980s; and the child's eyewitness recollections of war atrocities. Marenn skillfully describes the process by which she and her new daughter adjusted to each other's language and background, providing context for Maria Jesus' brutal and poignant narrative, which portrays through words and drawings scenes of rape, throat-slitting, and mass shootings whose victims included her parents and other family members. The author's unwavering determination to help them both come to grips with what has occurred is expressed in simple yet powerfully lyrical prose. Recommended for general collections.-- Ruth M. Mara, Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.
In 1984, Marenn traveled to El Salvador to meet her adopted daughter, an eight-year-old Salvadoran orphan named Maria de Jesus. "Salvador's Children" tells how her effort to create a warm, nurturing home for Maria (whose drawings illustrate the book) forced Marenn to confront both her childhood experiences as a refugee in Europe during and after World War II and the brutal devastation Salvadoran families suffered at the hands of their nation's corrupt, vicious, U.S.-supported military forces. By the time she was eight, Maria had seen far too much: rape and torture, murders and disappearances. More than a dozen of her relatives died; nearly two dozen were among the missing. Marenn comes to understand that she can help her daughter learn to trust the present and future only by investigating the past: talking with Salvadoran refugees, digging through U.S. news reports on Salvador's civil war, finally locating in the Library of Congress a Salvadoran newspaper photo of Maria's mother, and then sending a letter south via the underground railroad to Maria's older brother and sister, whose whereabouts are unknown. An intensely personal narrative, "Salvador's Children" also offers a compelling, dramatic account of the tragic consequences of a mindless, soulless U.S. foreign policy.