Araceli’s Path

Araceli’s Path is the epic story of life in poverty in Juarez, Mexico. Reminiscent of The Children of Sanchez by Oscar Lewis, Araceli’s Path offers a modern-day, fictional account of a young girl growing up in extreme poverty just across our Southern border. Readers planning a mission trip, interested in other cultures, wanting to understand the struggle in a  poverty without safety nets, and readers looking for a meaningful read will enjoy Araceli’s Path.

Oscar Lewis wrote an anthropological view of poverty in Mexico City in the 1960’s. Marion Surles writes a story based on the many stories of the children she works with in a squatters’ neighborhood in Juarez at her mission Love and Literacy. This mission encourages children to read and stay in school. Proceeds from the sale of her books fund the mission which provides books in Spanish and literacy activities in Colonia Sulaiman. The mission also partners with the local school in providing school supplies, books, and classroom supplies for teachers.

Araceli’s Path begins when Araceli is in elementary school where she excels as a student while carrying the heavy load of caring for her younger sisters. Her mother is often absent from home as she searches for the next man to solve her problems. The only steady source of strength in Araceli’s life is her grandmother who provides an occasional meal and much love.

As graduation from sixth grade approaches, Araceli’s teacher wants her to continue her studies at the secondary school. Araceli’s mother refuses to allow her to study further and brings home two more siblings for her to care for. Araceli suffers the loss of her grandmother and the arrival of another step-father which make her life even more bleak. Carmen, a nearby neighbor, offers steady advice for her, and Araceli looks for a way out.

When forced to choose between love and education, Araceli chooses love. But soon she realizes that love is often lonely. The violence of the male-dominated world seems determined to hold Araceli back from her dreams. Yet, she struggles on, determined to find the path God has planned for her life.

Through the encounters with her church and a mission team, Araceli finds an unlikely new friend. Dr. Paul, lovingly called Abuelo, reaches out to Araceli and her young family, and Araceli begins to see a ray of light. There are many devils in Juarez, but Araceli also finds many angels in her path.

Could you be the next angel for another Araceli? The purchase of this book helps buy more books for children and through Love and Literacy encourages children to stay in school.

Marion Surles is a retired bilingual Spanish teacher. She has traveled extensively in Latin America with mission teams and worked with immigrants to the United States teaching English and filling out immigration paperwork and tax forms. “Whether immigrants to the United States or poverty-stricken in their home country, most people only want a hand up, not a hand out. Each of us has some way to help. You don’t have to speak the language or be an accountant or a certified teacher or an engineer. Each of us has a gift to help light the path of another. What can you offer? Write to me, and let me help you plug in! I am also available for speaking engagements.”

Visit me on my Facebook page: Love and Literacy

My first book Grit in Juarez is suitable for all ages and would be great for social studies enrichment. Araceli’s Path, although not graphic, has some adult themes and alludes to the narco- and domestic violence prevalent in this area. Both books are also available in Spanish, and all can be found on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle format.

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