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Eleven-year-old Alexis is forced to leave the safety of the little farming village a few kilometres from Port-au-Prince where he and his mother live. They must flee their Haitian Eden and seek refuge in the United States. They have no news of his father, who was imprisoned for having organized a farm cooperative. The military dictatorship in power in their country uses a peasant uprising as a pretext to destroy the local economy. In this way, the large landholders from the capital can gain possession more easily of the fertile, well-irrigated land in the valley between the mountains and the sea. Alexis's quest is to rediscover freedom, friendship and joy in life -- states of being usually taken for granted in childhood.
Presenting a child's point of view, the author recounts an escape by boat, life in refugee camps and an endless wait for political status. The reader comes to understand that even a child in exile, who experiences brushes with death and depression, has a survival instinct: overcoming any situation is only a matter of heeding this instinct. This short novel is able to create a vivid picture of the life of the "boat people." The linear construction of the text is interspersed with rich descriptions that evoke the scents and colours of the vegetation of the lost paradise. The simplicity of the writing and the poetry of some passages may at times surprise the reader in light of the intensity of the events recounted.