Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Summary: Ana loves learning and hopes to be able to go on to secondary school. But in the Bolivian mountain village where she lives, most boys wind up working in the mines and girls become miners’ wives. When her abusive father forces her asthmatic younger brother Daniel to become a miner, Daniel’s health breaks. Ana volunteers to take his place, earning the wrath of the men who believe it’s bad luck for a girl or woman to go into the mines. A cave-in results in her father’s death and Daniel’s disappearance, bringing even greater despair to the family. Ana feels trapped by the circumstances of her life, yet also determined to find a way out for herself and her family. Includes an eight-page author’s note with more information about Bolivia and the mining industry; a note on the use of italics, languages, and the Bible; and a glossary of Spanish and Quechua (indigenous) words. 384 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: A gripping story with an intelligent and courageous heroine, surrounded by nuanced characters, that explores a part of the world that is probably unfamiliar to most American readers (it was to me).
Cons: Because the setting is so unfamiliar, this could be a little bit of a hard sell. It’s worth some perseverance, though, as it would appeal to many middle school readers.