Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
c2002 Fiction; Grades 7+; 380 p. 660L 2003 ALA Newberry Honor Book Booklist Starred: Alacran is a clone of the original Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron, the 142-year-old absolute ruler of Opium, a country separating the U.S and Aztlan, once known as Mexico. In Opium, mind-controlled slaves care for fields of poppies, and clones are universally despised. Matt, on El Patron's orders, is the only clone whose intelligence has not been blunted. While still quite young, Matt is taken from the loving care of El Patron's cook and placed into the abusive hands of a maid, who treats him like an animal. At 7, brought to El Patron's attention, he begins an indulged life, getting an education and musical training, though he is never allowed to forget that he is not considered human. Matt doesn't learn until he is 14 that El Patron has had other clones, who have provided hearts and other organs so El Patron can go on living. This is a powerful, ultimately hopeful, story that builds on today's sociopolitical, ethical, and scientific issues and prognosticates a compelling picture of what the future could bring. All of these serious issues are held together by a remarkable coming-of-age story, in which a boy's self-image and right to life are at stake.