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Ploughshares, the literary magazine of Emerson College.
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By Me & My Girls on 07-23-14
Sweet story for middle school girls
Penny is a young Mennonite girl sent to summer camp for a week by her parents. She's convinced her friend Gina to come along with her and it's a huge surprise for them both. No swimming, not even baths, showers, or water to wash clothes. As they deal with the boredom of a religious camp circa 1980; Gina is faced with raging hormones and Penny with the memories of her last day in Guatemala. This story is a sweet look at the a slice of a young girl's life as she tries to deal with culture shock, her memories, and the pain of becoming an adult.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Steven on 08-07-14
Beautiful Story, Unfortunate Spanish Pronunciation
Would you consider the audio edition of Small Country to be better than the print version?
The only reason the audio edition is not better than the print version is because the narrator's pronunciation of Spanish is horrible! If the listener has never taken an introductory Spanish course, the listener will not detect anything is wrong. However, anyone with even a basic level of Spanish proficiency will not only cringe, but find the pronunciation unintelligible. When Penny, the protagonist, encounters Lucas, a fellow M.K. (missionary kid) from Honduras, they engage in a casual conversation about Guatemala, Honduras, and the common aspects of Central America they know and share. In the written story, this is a a wonderful moment for Penny, who is trying to navigate unfamiliar territory -- US culture, her rural and conservative Mennonite heritage, and adolescent sexual expression. Unfortunately, the Spanish is so poorly pronounced by the voice artist that I couldn't understand the Spanish being used. When the narrator then provides the English translation I was amazed at how the words were butchered. What the reader of Small Country identifies as a moment of hope for Penny in the written story, becomes, for the Spanish proficient listener, an extremely awkward, cringe-worthy sequence of events.What would have just been a misfortune early in the story when the Spanish is used in casual conversation, absolutely destroys the climax of the story. King beautifully weaves two dramatic climaxes together, a real-time event prompting a vivid flashback. Unfortunately for the Spanish-proficient listener, the incredible climactic build is dashed by Holloway's unfortunate mispronunciation of "señor" (saynyor) spoken by a Guatemalan character as "senior" (SEEnyor). The recording is painful.If you haven't guessed by now. This audiobook needs to be re-recorded. The current narration does not do justice to the storyline.
What did you like best about this story?
King has created a story that is as vibrant and complex as a Guatemalan huipil. At the same moment that we are laughing with Penny through her awkwardness our hearts wrench with understanding her desire to belong and to find something familiar. At the same moment in which Penny is confronting a great moral and developmental dilemma, she is processing monumental moments from her past. King manages to weave elements of Penny's past into the present in order to create a story which is funny, heart-wrenching, triumphant, and familiar to anyone who has been caught between two cultures.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Casey Holloway?
I am not certain who I would have cast as a narrator. However, whoever is in charge of casting voice talent, or whoever served as producer for this audio recording, REALLY needs to do quality control of "bilingual" voice talent.
If you could take any character from Small Country out to dinner, who would it be and why?
Penny. While it's not a Guatemalan meal, Penny deserves to chow down on some papusas and forget the difficulties of navigating adolescence and cultural identity.