Book 72 of 80 and Book 72 Completed…
So…as you can see…I read this book faster than I could blog about it. I’ve been busy — as I warned would happen exponentially through the end of the year — but I was able to carve out about an hour and a half to read Deborah Ellis’ I am a Taxi for Bolivia. It’s billed as YA literature and the main character is thirteen, but I’m imagining this book is mostly read by late elementary school or junior high aged kids. It’s fast. And it’s easy.
And so I wasn’t really expecting to find it interesting or engaging. But I was wrong.
I am a Taxi is about a young Bolivian boy whose parents are in jail for selling cocaine (they were framed, however) and he earns money for his mom and little baby sister by running errands as a “taxi” for the other women in the jail. Learning about the Bolivian jail system was probably the best part of the book for me — I was astounded by the differences and would love to research it further. Children can live with their parents in jail and the children can leave and return to the jail as often as they would like — young Diego leaves to sell knitted goods his mom makes to earn money for them to pay rent on their cell. Yeah, they have to pay rent! And if they can’t afford to rent a cell, well, then they have to sleep on cots in a giant communal courtyard.
The jail doesn’t provide meals either. So, women start up food businesses within the jail and send the taxis to get supplies.
At any rate, Diego runs into some money trouble and is essentially kidnapped and gets caught up in the world of drug making — I actually was quite ignorant about how cocaine is made from the coca plant and all of the politics surrounding harvesting coca in Latin America (Ellis’ anti-American stance is pretty blatant in an afterword). So, I am a Taxi schooled me; but in a nice way, appropriate for 5th graders…which is kinda nice — I appreciate the gentle approach sometimes.
It is a page-turner and I think parents of reluctant boy readers might find success in this one. A nice little — short — jaunt to Bolivia.