Francisco X. Stork
Arthur A. Levine Books, October 2017
Existence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico requires a combination of courage, vigilance and restraint. The typical work-day commute equals exposure to potential harassment and harm. Truly dangerous, totally unavoidable. Students don’t have the luxury of focusing on academics or sports. Families need financial support.
Emiliano attends his high school classes and participates on his soccer team, but he focuses on family and ‘his’ Jiparis. Intelligent, innovative and driven, Emiliano creates a small business of collecting hand-made folk art from his pseudo-Mexican-Boy Scouts, which he sells to small shops. The Jiparis’ families receive the bulk of proceeds, of course, but Emiliano’s cut helps at home and his business has been noticed.
A journalist with El Sol, Emiliano’s sister writes a weekly column about the city’s missing girls. Sara had shared her own story of loss, writing of the day her best friend was kidnapped. Friends and family members of other missing girls responded to her article, and Sara was assigned a weekly column. After reporting progress, Sara was stunned when she was ordered to drop the investigation and the article.
Emiliano becomes acquainted with several of the city’s successful businessmen and his views seem to shift. Hard work is nothing without the willingness to get “a little dirty”. A person can only truly move up, in this world, when illegal activity is going down. Clearly, everyone is doing it; but it takes Emiliano time to realize how closely it is all connected.
Mr. Stork deftly displays the complexities of life in Mexico, even as he highlights the hope, strength, determination and compassion in the people that call it home. Disappeared is a fictional story about Mexico’s missing girls, but the fact is, hundreds of Mexican women do disappear in this border city every year.
Reviewed by jv poore, September 2017.