Caminar (review & giveaway)


Book description:

Title: Caminar
Author: Skila Brown
Release Date: March 25, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6516-6

Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her… Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

My review: When I agreed to receive a copy for review of Caminar by Skila Brown, I didn’t realize the story is told in poems, although it’s clearly stated in the description. It’s a quick read, partly because the book is made up of poems and partly because there’s excellent suspense that propels you through the story, making you want to read “one more” poem to see what happens. The book’s target audience is middle grade and the book is fiction based on real historical events. I like that it’s told in first person, so kids can really identify with Carlos and feel a little bit of what it must have felt like to live through such an experience, and I like the little bit of Spanish throughout.

My 12 year old asked what I was reading and asked me to read some to him but after awhile he stopped me and said, “No offense, but I prefer funny poems.” (He was raised on Shel Silverstein.) That being said, I enjoyed it and think it would work best in a classroom setting, read as a class with discussion and related assignments, but if you have a child who likes poetry (the non-funny kind), and is interested in Guatemala and can handle serious subject matter, then they might enjoy this book as much as I did.


The Giveaway

Prize description: Three lucky random winners will each be receiving an advanced copy of Caminar by Skila Brown.

How to Enter: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below sharing who you’d like to win this book for – If for yourself, why do you want to read it? (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company/person in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winners will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. If no response is received after 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 17, 2014 through February 23, 2014. Entries received after February 23, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Disclosure: A book was received for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.


  1. Oh this sounds so exciting! Is it embarrassing if I say I want to read it myself? I love YA books, but also that fact that my husband is Guatemalan and lived there during the civil war, I’m always interested in understanding that history better. It’s a long way off, but I want my kids to read these types of stories as well so they understand the broader context of their own personal and also the world’s history!

    • (Not embarrassing at all. I love YA and read it just as much as adult fiction… Also, I was interested in this book because my husband is from El Salvador — similar culture and history with the war. You’ll love this.)

  2. I would love to win this book for my junior high-aged daughter. She has a birthday coming up and she loves to get new books. I’m sure I would enjoy it also.

  3. I would love to win this for myself. I love poetry & history! Also, my mother-in-law is from Guatemala and I really do not know that much about the country’s history. This would be an excellent way to learn. :)

  4. I think I would read it but I would also like to have my 10.5 year old daughter read it as well. Start a conversation with her after reading each poem. It sounds interesting.

  5. I’d like a copy of this book for my students! I teach both English and Spanish. My high school Spanish students have studied Guatemala’s civil war. They learned the story of Oscar Ramírez Castañeda, a man who discovered that he had been a victim of a massacre during Guatemala’s civil war, saved by a man who participated in the killings of his mother, his many brothers and sisters, and the rest of their community. It is a very moving true story that you can read in ProPublica’s excellent report here:
    This book would tie in beautifully for that unit. It could even be a summer reading book for the vacation period before the students enter the course. I’d share my copy with my school’s Spanish department or convince them to buy their own.

    The description doesn’t specify, but I assume the book is in English. If so, it could also be a text for my English students, especially since it’s at a middle-school reading level. I’m always looking for books with a lower reading level that adult students can enjoy.

    And, of course, I want to read it for my own enjoyment! I love poetry and Guatemala is close to my heart.

  6. How incredibly interesting. I would like to read this myself too. I am from Guatemala and lived there all my life. My view of the civil war is quite different as we where very far from the mountains, not only physically but also in other ways but the war affected my family directly as my uncle was kidnapped and killed during that time and my cousins had to flee the country. I would love my kids to learn about what happened in the country they where born in but barely remember but they are too young for this book.

  7. This book would definitely be for my husband and I. I remember when he was courting me, he would call me from phone booths that they had in Guatemala (wish cell phones existed back then). I could hear all the gun shots in the background and he would tell me that he had to hurry before they get closer. I would pray that I would be able to hear his voice the next day and thank God I would.

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