For twelve-year-old Diego and his family, home is the San Sebastian Women's Prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia. His parents farmed coca, a traditional Bolivian medicinal plant, until they got caught in the middle of the government's war on drugs. Diego's adjusted to his new life. His parents are locked up, but he can come and go: to school, to the market to sell his mother's hand-knitted goods, and to work as a "taxi, running errands for other prisoners. But then his little sister runs away, earning his mother a heavy fine. The debt and dawning realization of his hopeless situation make him vulnerable to his friend Mando's plan to make big money, fast. Soon, Diego is deep in the jungle, working as a virtual slave in an illegal cocaine operation. As his situation becomes more and more dangerous, he knows he must take a terrible risk if he ever wants to see his family again.
Winner of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, 2007
A SSLI Honor Book, 2007
Long-listed for the YALSA BBYA, 2007
"the strength of the book lies in the glimpse of a single individual struggling to exist in a society with limited options for escape." Horn Book, starred review
"Vivid details and a thrilling plot will keep older children and teens engaged in this highly-accessible, realistic storyline." Reforma
"This is not your usual teen storylinean excellent story that will appeal to any readers who feel trapped by their livesThe characters are well-drawn and realistic." Library Media Connection