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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
The Little Breadwinner by Lucia Mann is, as the subtitle suggests, a tale of war and survival in El Salvador, a story that captures the devastating experience of the Civil War from 1980 to 1992. It is often said that when elephants fight, the grass suffers, and this book is a powerful statement that crystallizes the saying. The author plunges the reader into a world of chaos, where tyranny takes control of the streets and where vulnerable people suffer from the atrocities committed by the military firing squad. It is against this backdrop that Estrella Godwin Lozano, a woman traumatized by the horrors orchestrated by the National Guard soldiers outside her pueblo home, takes up arms and joins the Sandinistas to seek revenge. Can she survive the struggle?
This is an engrossing historical narrative that explores the misery of war and as one reads, one is appalled at man’s inhumanity to man, the horror of war, and what the quest for power can lead to. The book is written in a highly descriptive style and the author takes readers on a painful journey down the path of history. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think about situations in other countries like Cameroon where the military wage war against civilians and where children and the most vulnerable suffer. Lucia Mann’s book isn’t written to entertain readers, but to draw their attention to facts about war and how cruel it is to support it. The descriptions are strong, the prose beautiful, but it is the humanity of the characters, the resilient spirit of a female protagonist that makes the story a gripping read. The Little Breadwinner: War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland is a heart-wrenching story of the Civil War in El Salvador, written with a lot of clarity and passion.