Saturday, December 24, 2005


Gonzales & Daughter Trucking Co, by Maria Amparo Escandon, Random House, Inc, 2005, 285 pp.

This was a reading group pick and an example of a book I might never have found otherwise. I really liked it! The subtitle is: A Road Novel with Literary License. Libertad Gonzales is the daughter of two truckers whose mother died at Libertad's birth and who was raised by her father while riding the Interstates in his 18 wheeler.

Now Libertad is serving time in a Mexican prison and consumed with guilt, but she is unable to reveal her crime to her fellow inmates at the Mexicali Penal Institution for Women. She comes across an old paperback and begins reading aloud, but what comes out is not the story in the book but her own story. The other women are largely illiterate, so Libertad forms The Library Club and "reads" to them everyday. Thus you learn her history and at the very end, her crime.

The prison, its inmates and staff reminded me of Pen Pals by Olivia Goldsmith. It is a complex scenario of graft, rehab and sorority. The trucker characters are larger than life and the author even provides a glossary of trucker lingo. The book itself touches on feminism, parenting, coming of age, teen issues and also has a dash of magical realism. Quite an accomplishment in a novel that keeps you turning the pages and reads like a bestseller. Highly recommended for teens, adults, men and women.

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