Araceli's Path Cover

Araceli’s Path

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Among Angels
and Devils in Juarez
Genre: Realistic Fiction / Border Stories / Mature Middle Grade
Publisher: Love and Literacy
Date of Publication: November 30, 2019
Number of Pages: 145
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Araceli's Path cover

Araceli comes from a blended, dysfunctional family held together by the love of a grandmother. Rubí is being raised by a single mother who works as a prostitute. Both young girls are affected not only by their mothers’ choices but also by the violence and culture of Juarez, Mexico.

Can they overcome the cards they have been dealt, or are they destined to follow the same paths as their mothers?

Follow the lives of Araceli and Rubí from childhood to young adulthood and listen for children everywhere who are voiceless, trapped in their own cultures.

Proceeds benefit Love and Literacy

Book Trailer


Clueless Gent’s Rating for Araceli’s Path

4.5 star rating

Araceli’s Path is a poignant story about life in Juarez, Mexico, as experienced by a very young girl. The story is fictional, but the problems it addresses are all too real.

The storyline follows the path of young Araceli, from the time she lived with her sisters and mother, to the time she marries and has children of her own. All of this occurs before she reaches the age of sixteen. The story also follows the path of Rubí, another girl slightly younger than Araceli. Both girls seem to be headed down the same paths as their mothers. One of them accepts it, and the other one does not.

This story is clearly written for children in middle grades, but the themes are very mature. Author Marion Surles does not pull any punches; she writes it as it really is. In addition to the very sad aspects of young teen girls becoming wives and mothers, Surles also includes stark descriptions of the living conditions the girls endure, as well as child abuse, drugs, rape and incessant violence. This is the truly sad world of overwhelming poverty. The story may be fictional, but I have no doubt that the poverty, child abuse, drugs, rape and violence are all too real.

Surprisingly, despite the poverty, there are high points and even some joy. Araceli learned about God from her beloved Abuela – her mamás mamá. She leans on her faith when life is hard, and yet she still has the grace to thank God for the blessings. The religion in the story does not overshadow the events. It is included tastefully and non-judgmentally.

Something that I thought to be very unusual in a work of fiction was the inclusion of actual photographs to represent specific elements of the story. For example, even though the author uses good description to give the reader insight into the poverty, the photographs of a shack with dirt floors, an outhouse, all surrounded by filth and more dirt, provided credence to the way our protagonist lived.

Given the intended audience of this book, I think the author did a wonderful job of presenting the mature themes in a way that would be easily understood by those young readers, yet not give them nightmares. Surles does not go too deep into the “why” of things, but mostly through dialogue she identifies ways that Araceli can change her life. Education, for example, is discussed several times in the story. However, the adults seem to have very little use for it.

There is nothing humorous in this story. But that’s to be expected. This degree of poverty, and the living conditions we find there, are clearly nothing to laugh about.

If you have a child who whines because he or she doesn’t have the latest X-BOX, this could very well be a story to change that.

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.
Photo of paperback book leaning against decorative red lantern light.
Bookstagram courtesy of Christena.

the Author

Marion Surles Author Photo

Marion Surles was born in 1957 in Columbus, Mississippi. From a young age she was interested in learning Spanish, due to a special offering of Spanish at her elementary school. She received a BA and MA in Spanish and social work from Mississippi State University and teaches Spanish and English as a Second Language to all levels of students. She also serves as a volunteer missionary at home and in many Spanish-speaking countries. Most recently, she has formed a mission in Juarez, Mexico called Love and Literacy, which encourages reading and staying in school. Every two months, Marion travels to Juarez to bring books and literacy activities to a poor neighborhood, partnering with a local family to serve as the library. Her books are a fictional account of the lives of her students. Her Facebook page, Love and Literacy, gives updates of her work in Juarez.

Marion lives in Dublin, Texas with her husband, horses, and dogs. She enjoys trail riding, kayaking, and camping, plus visiting with her daughters and granddaughter nearby.

Autographed copies of Araceli’s Path and Grit in
Juarez (choice of English or Spanish), Day of the Dead shopping bag & plate, Mexican coin purse, Mexican candy.
NOVEMBER 5-15, 2020
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