(translated by Emilie Smith)
Published February 15, 2014
While grief over her mother’s death is still fresh, fourteen year-old Victoria and her two young twin brothers move in with their aunt. Victoria is determined to make the best of things, but when her aunt’s boyfriend attacks her, Victoria fights him off and runs. She knows she will not be able to go home.
As a precocious girl, she quickly finds friends on the street. She washes windshields and sells flowers for a few coins here and there. She knows she must return to school if she is to have any chance at a good job later on, but how can she do that while she is living on the street? After a visit visit to the school and a kindly woman offering her room and board, Victoria begins to hope again. But violence seems to follow her at every turn. When the dangerous Captain comes looking for one of Victoria’s friends, she knows the worst is far from over. Only her determination and strength of character stand between her and becoming lost in a tumultuous street world.
Victoria’s story is a simple and familiar tale: troubled teen chased into street life by unendurable circumstances in her home. Though Victoria faces life on the street, her own experiences are shadows compared to the ones her friends must survive. While this story provides a valuable window into a world in which US teens can only imagine, Victoria’s character development is a little flat. She is very level-headed for a girl who grew up in the conditions as described in the story. The danger her friends experience grounds the story and emphasizes the fact that though people look out for Victoria, life on the street is life on the edge of a knife. One foul move can destroy one’s life. Goldemberg captures this essence clearly yet retains an innocence in Victoria’s can-do attitude and no-nonsense manner.
A few brief kisses.
From a distance, Victoria sees two young men beat and later shoot another young man. Her aunt’s boyfriend makes a pass at her, but she refuses him and escapes. She sees evidence (bruises and testimony) of violence against others and witnesses two more shootings.
Victoria’s friend Marko lights a joint in front of her, but Victoria refuses to smoke with him. Marko sells drugs for a powerful man referred to as the Captain. This earns him lots of trouble.