This is a story of things getting out of hand and going badly wrong. Araceli is the person who starts off by getting the worst of the deal, but somehow she manages to emerge triumphant, and the deserved heroine of a story in which the adults are idiots, and the children rise above the disasters around them by turning them into an adventure. And how can you not love Brandon who, at 11 years old, is reading 'The Catcher in the Rye'?
They stood alone, housekeeper and young charges, on a block where only the bus bench and shelter interrupted the empty sweep of the sidewall. So strange, Araceli observed, a block without people, just as on Paseo Linda Bonita, but this time in the middle of an aging city with buildings from the previous century. All the store fronts were shuttered and locks as big as oranges dangled from their steel doors, while swarthy men struck poses for the passing motorists from rooftop billboards, their fingers wrapped enviously around light-skinned women and bottles of beer and hard liquor.