Tag Archive | Guatemala

12.21, by Dustin Thomason (fiction) – Mayan codex, deadly epidemic, end of the world?

book cover of 12 21 by Dustin Thomason published by Dial

Disease and rioting…
Airplane crashes…
Attacks on immigrants…
Just another day in L.A. or is it the end of the world?

The mysterious codex smuggled to Chel from rural Guatemala might verify the doomsday interpretations of the Mayan “Long Calendar” or just the last days of a single Mayan town… but how to be sure?

As December 21st approaches, look into the great museum exhibits clarifying Mayan timekeeping and the Long Calendar; are researchers even using the correct conversion factor to match Mayan and modern dates?  Be sure to check out the excellent interactive tutorial on reading Mayan glyphs on the book’s website, too.

You’ll find this medical thriller/apocalyptic tale at your local library or independent bookstore now. Probably better to read it sooner than later, right?
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Book info: 12.21 / Dustin Thomason. Dial Books, 2012.  [book website]   [author’s Facebook page] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: Gabe Stanton leaves his disease research lab to check on a mystery patient at a Los Angeles hospital. Chel Manu wonders if the astounding Mayan codex brought to her by a smuggler might not be a forgery. And an airplane falls from the sky, as a rampaging epidemic begins sweeping through L.A. 
This cluster of symptoms described by the hospital matches an extremely rare incurable prion disease, one so infectious that hazmat suits are required just to enter the patient’s room. Perhaps with the help of the right translator they can get some information from the young man to track down the disease’s origin…before he dies of acute insomnia and panic. 
So Chel is asked to translate, pulled away from her volunteer time with Guatemalan refugees, away from her research on ancient Mayan writings, away from the black market antiquities dealer who brought her a never-seen codex from a forgotten city, away from those who think that the 12.21.12 end of the Mayan ‘Long Calendar’ marks the end of the world. 
With few clues and the disease spreading rapidly, Stanton tries to pinpoint how the infection is spread, as Chel surreptitiously translates the new-found codex. Both sets of information point back to a hidden ancient city in the homeland of Chel’s mother, thousands of miles away. 

As the government quarantines LA to stop the epidemic, Stanton and Chel must find a way to get to Guatemala before it’s too late. Is there any possible cure for this disease? How much of the codex’s unusual tale is true? Will the countdown to the end of the Long Calendar become the countdown to the end of civilization? (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Journey of Dreams (fiction)

Let’s go to Central America for World Wednesday, where the designs of Guatemalan huipiles tell stories, woven into the cloth, strand by strand, using a backstrap loom. It would take many weeks for Tomasa or her mother to weave enough cloth for an entire skirt or blouse.

Tomasa tells her story as she would weave a huipil, strand by strand, row by row, along the jungle paths and strange city streets of their journey. Guatemala’s long civil war was at its height in 1984, when thousands of Native Mayan families like hers fled from their land as soldiers destroyed their villages. Many thousands more were killed in the government’s “scorched earth” campaign – it was a bitter time.

Questions about refugees or immigrants often have no easy answers, but hearing the stories of others’ lives can help us understand how their world is different and perhaps show us ways to make life better for others.
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Book info: Journey of Dreams / Marge Pellegrino. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2009. [author’s website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: As she and her mother weave, Tomasa hears the helicopters carrying soldiers. As they wash clothes at the river, she worries aloud about the planes spraying poisons, trying to force people from their small farms. Stones are thrown at their house, wrapped with notes threatening them to keep quiet about the planes and the pesticides.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe tonight, the army will come for the older schoolboys, like her brother Carlos, to make them soldiers against the rebels who are trying to save their land, to make them shoot at their neighbors.

Mama and Carlos slip away one night, escaping to the north. Soon, Papa decides it is too dangerous for the rest of the family to stay, and they flee in the darkness, just ahead of the soldiers who burn the crops, bulldoze down the houses, try to erase their village from the map of Guatemala.

Tomasa helps Papa lead her little brother and baby sister through the jungle, across rivers, and even into cities, looking for Mama and Carlos. When sanctuary workers locate them in the United States, the journey becomes even longer and more perilous.

Can the family get through Mexico to find Mama and Carlos? Will they die crossing the borders, as so many refugees have? Who can hear Tomasa’s dreams of running, of friends left behind in the ruined village?

Tomasa weaves into her huipiles many symbols from the Qui’che legends that Papa retells, the faith of the Church, and the love of her family in this compelling look at the Central American refugee experience, as seen through a 12 year old’s eyes. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.