Slash and Burn by Claudia Hernandez

Slash and Burn

Claudia Hernandez

You won’t be surprised that this serious story of the El Salvador civil war demands a bit of work especially to visualise the characters and locations, deliberately left anonymous. Told objectively from the point of view of a coping, determined woman, it’s a real eye-opener on survival in a conflict zone, populated by transient and brutal male characters and complex relationships. A tough read but worth the effort.


The place they lived while taking shelter on the city's outskirts, and where she learned to cook so she could feed her, is now a factory. Though not the prettiest place in the world, it'll put a picture to the few stories her grandmother is sharing with her now. Later, she will tell the girl some of the stories she's long kept hidden, so that she won't have to go through what she and her mother did and only learn of them when she's at death's door. She'll also tell the other girls, if they return. She knows they might not: this is what the place they were conceived in is for. The littlest might leave at any moment. Her father might summon her. His family might woo her. She might go to a place where she couldn't follow. 

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