I Am A Taxi by Deborah Ellis

Diego lives with his mother and his little sister. They share a cell in the San Sebastien Women’s Prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Diego is twelve. They are better off in their cramped cell than when he was nine and his parents were first arrested, wrongfully convicted for drug smuggling. Then, his mother couldn’t afford to pay rent on a separate cell, and they slept on a mat in the courtyard. Diego spends his days working as a “taxi,” running errands for other prisoners, and doing homework for spoiled rich kids at school. He’s smart, and a survivor. But when trouble striked and his mother’s meagre savings are eaten up by prison fees, Diego takes a risk. His friend Mando says that he’s found a new job for them, that will make them lots of money. So Diego and Mando head out into the Bolivian jungles…

If you guessed that this phenomenal new job involved drugs, you would be right. After all, it’s another well-written, pull-no-punches, socially aware book from the author who brought us the Breadwinner series (the plight of girls in Afghanistan) and The Heaven Shop (AIDS orphans in Africa). Deborah Ellis is very good at what she does, which is tell  stories about complex, tragic social problems at a level appropriate to ten to thirteen year olds without an ounce of sugar-coating or condescension.

But I got a third of the way into the book, and did not want to keep going. Seriously, things were not ideal for Diego and his family, but they were getting by. And I knew it was all about to fall apart and get much worse, and I just didn’t want it to happen. However, I kept going (if I could make it through Ann Marie Macdonald’s Fall On Your Knees, I could make it through this) and even through tragedy and inevitable betrayal , there’s still a spark of hope at the end. And thank god for that, since this looks like the start of a series.


One response to “I Am A Taxi by Deborah Ellis

  1. Pingback: Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 4!)

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