Playing for the Devil’s Fire by Phillippe Diederich. Cinco Puntos Press, 2016
In his small town outside of Mexico City, 13-year-old Boli spends his time helping at his parents’ bakery, playing marbles with his friends (the devil’s fire is a coveted marble he owns), and waiting for the next lucha libre match to visit his town. But his easy, predictable life changes after the severed head of the town’s teacher is found in the square. That is soon followed by the discovery of another dead body. These two events make it impossible for the adults to continue shielding their children from the narcos who are taking over the town. When Boli’s parents leave to find help from a greater authority, they don’t return, which leads Boli to team up with a washed-out lucha libre figher, El Chicano, to find answers. Diederich wisely chose to tell this gut-wrenching story of crime, violence, and corruption from Boli’s innocent point of view. Tight, descriptive writing paints a picture of the town, its people, and their culture, and of a reluctant hero in El Chicano. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
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