Mario Bencastro

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(124 pages)

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A Promise to Keep

A novel that Salvadoran author Mario Bencastro wrote with the collaboration of students from a school in the United States has been published by Arte Público Press. The novelís title is A Promise to Keep, and it has been published in English in 2005. The book tells the story of a child that came to the US at the age of six and that, in the novel, he is already an adolescent that faces a series of conflicts proper of his age and environment.
***** "Nevertheless," Bencastro points out, "this is not a young adult novel for entertainment only, but one that also confronts the realities of the young Latino population in the US". The novel was written with the collaboration of students from Belmont High School of Los Angeles, California, who participated actively proposing themes and opinions for the novelís content.
***** Teenager Sergio is caught between two countries. He has lived in Los Angeles since the age of six, when he emigrated from Central America with his parents. But in a country far away from his birthplace and birthright, he finds himself coming of age without any sense of a "homeland."
***** Sergio has spent many years under the strong, guiding influence of his grandfather, who lived with Sergio's family until his recent death. Before Abuelo dies, he exacts a tough promise from Sergio. After years living in a land that is not his own, Abuelo demands to be buried in his own native soil. Sergio's struggle to honor his mentor takes him on a dangerous mission, fraught with unexpected disasters. Sergio's voyage of self-discovery and cultural exploration requires him to take control. He encounters unexpected triumphs and discoveries that will enrich the rest of his life.
***** A Promise to Keep explores critical questions of identity, homeland, and culture, issues that are grounded in the reality of immigrant teenagers who have been raised and educated in the United States. In this well-crafted and sensitive narrative, acclaimed author Mario Bencastro draws upon his own experiences working with immigrant teens to deftly examine the pressing questions and problems facing these bicultural teens.
***** A Promise to Keep was translated to English from Spanish (Viaje a la tierra del abuelo) by Susan Gierbach Rascón, a professor of Spanish at the University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who also translated Bencastroís previous books with great success.

A Promise to Keep

Arte Público Press, May 2005, Houston, USA. Translated by Susan Giersbach Rascón. ISBN-10: 1-55885-457-6. 126 pages. Trade Paperback. Copyright © 1999 Mario Bencastro.