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Sacred Leaf–Deborah Ellis

As average an average American it can sometimes be very easy to forget that we have many more opportunities and choices in life than most other people in the world.  Sacred Leaf tells the story of twelve-year-old Diego growing up on Cochabamba, Bolivia.  As the story begins, Diego is living in a women's prison with his mother and infant sister while his father serves time in the men's prison across the square in the city.  Diego is able to come and go, but life is not easy as he earns money as a taxi running errands for prisoners.  Circumstances lead Diego out of the city where he meets a family of farmers who take him in.  Unfortunately, as Bolivia is a very poor country the only crop that farmers can grow that is valuable enough for them to make ends meet is the coca plant.  Coca is a sacred plant to the people of Bolivia, yet can also be processed into cocaine that gets exported.  Diego and the Ricardo family who take him in get caught up in a battle of wills.  This battle escalates until the entire nation of Bolivia is paralyzed the a clash between the coca farmers and the Bolivian government is inevitable.  This books is perhaps not the very best literature I have ever read, but the plight of the characters and the power of the story makes this a great read!

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