Blood for Freedom: a Novel
by J.P. Piché
Trafford Publishing

"Paul promptly recovered his documents... Feeling uncomfortable, Paul moved away before looking back to see the contempt on the face of the officer turning into a smirk."

Since the suicide of his twin brother, Paul Desilets has been in a state of limbo. He can’t shake his grief or his accompanying lethargy. His emotional turmoil leads to the belief his brother is trying to contact him. Paul makes the decision to pull himself from his grief by embarking on a two-year mission trip to work with the Foreign Mission Society in Guatemala. Though he is faced with hints of underlying societal problems upon his arrival in the city, he puts those aside when he reaches Concepción and begins his work with the teenagers of the village and assisting a medical student from the University of Quetzaltenango to establish a health clinic. As time passes, Paul settles into a routine and makes friends among the native villagers, learning their dialect and way of life. Soon, however, it becomes evident that unrest over the exploitation of the natives is growing, and that resistance factions and Guatemala’s military government are on a collision course.

Piché’s novel is the familiar tale of exploitative imperial power. Set in 1979, descendants of both the Spanish and Germans hold power in major cities, while the native Mayan population lives much as they have for centuries, producing enough to sustain themselves on small plots of land and selling hand-made crafts. The author does a brilliant job of portraying the lifestyle and mindset of the native population, painting a picture of a life lived with very little hope of material improvement, and it is easy to understand Paul’s deep commitment to the cause of his new friends. This is one of those novels that reveals the darkness underneath the façade presented to tourists and visitors of third-world countries. It shows a mastery of storytelling as well as an all-too-common tragedy of life.

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