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.
The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant is available to reserve at Haliburton County Public Library. It is also one of our Evergreen nominees for 2016. Read one or more of our Evergreen selections and vote for your favourite in October.
*Originally published in the Haliburton Echo/Minden Times the week of September 1st, 2016.