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Thirteen-year-old Jose Cruz has been in La Rupa, Honduras his entire life. The tiny village of 56 people holds everything and everyone familiar to him. He lives in a comfortable house with his mom and dad; older brother and sister Victor and Ruby; younger siblings Juan, Maria and Angela; and beloved dog Berti. He goes to the International School, where he learns in both English and Spanish, and in his free time enjoys playing soccer with his friends. He also always keeps an eye out to catch sight of the colorful parrots that live in the trees on top of the hillside above the village. But in 1998, a category five hurricane hits Honduras and changes everything.

Hurricane Mitch strikes land in a fury of rain and wind. Jose has never experienced anything so scary in his life. To make matters worse, his father and older brother and sister are out of town making deliveries, and his faithful dog is missing. Jose knows he must stay brave and strong to help his mother take care of the younger kids. He tries to think what his father and admired older siblings would do, and has to dig deep for courage because the situation grows even worse.

The torrential downpour of rain causes a mudslide and buries half of La Rupa in seconds. Many of the villagers are killed, and the survivors are left with the heavy burden of worry and sorrow, and without shelter, food or fresh water. Jose doesn’t know what happened to his dad, older siblings, or even his dog. He prays that they are safe and will return soon, but fears the worst. Knowing that if they were home they would be working hard to help the village, Jose pitches in where he can. He helps to dig for survivors, and then the dead; shares his house with the homeless; searches for food and water; and offers to go for a doctor when his little brother gets sick. He tries to be brave, but inside he’s terrified. Will Honduras ever be the same? Will his family ever heal?

Terry Trueman is no novice writer, and his talents prove themselves in this terrifyingly realistic story based on the true disaster of Hurricane Mitch. Jose and his family are fictional, but the nightmares they and their neighbors endure are very similar to the real ones the Honduran people experienced in 1998. With Trueman’s moving story and admirable characters, readers will be able to sympathize with and feel for these individuals. They may even learn from Jose how to dig for strength to face their own potential scary situations in life.


Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on October 18, 2011

by Terry Trueman

  • Publication Date: February 26, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 006000018X
  • ISBN-13: 9780060000189