The Jaguar's ChildreneBook - 2015
From the #1 bestselling, award-winning author of The Golden Spruce and The Tiger: a rich, gripping literary thriller in the spirit of The Constant Gardener that showcases the narrative power for which John Vaillant is internationally acclaimed.
Hector, a young Zapotec fleeing Mexico for a better life in the US with his friend Cesar, a biotech researcher, pays to be smuggled across the border by unscrupulous "coyotes," concealed in the tightly sealed, empty tank of a water truck packed with illegal migrants. Abandoned by the smugglers in the desert, they are left to die, their only lifeline Cesar's phone. When Cesar slips into unconsciousness, Hector reaches out to the one name with an American code--AnniMac--that becomes his lifeline to the world as he reveals what has brought him to this place, taking us back to an older Mexico; to the lives of his Zapotec grandparents and the ancient, mythic traditions, to the mystery behind the jaguar icon left to him by a mysterious archeologist, and the power of the corn myth. As legends fuse with the terrifying present, the dangers Cesar is fleeing become grippingly apparent: his research was threatening to expose the country's largest manufacturer of genetically modified corn, set to impose economic and cultural genocide on the native population. Finding the courage to survive is critical, even as hope dwindles.
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All my life it was my abuelo who danced the jaguar to the music of the flute and drum through the smoke of copal burning, but when I was young I didn't know it was him, only that you never found the two of them together. No one saw him put it on - not the mask he carved himself or the suit of spots Abuela made. Some said he got the paint from the men who made the highway - black and yellow for the skin, red and white for the tongue and teeth, his own hair for the whiskers. I still don't know where he found the eyes and he could never tell. When I was older I understood that they were made of mirror glass and when he came close - close enough to bite - it wasn't only his eyes staring at you but your eyes also. For a moment you were the jaguar too.
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