A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{October 28, 2010}   I am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis

Plot: Diego lives in San Sebastian Women’s Prison with his mother and little sister. His father is in the men’s prison across the square. In San Sebastian, the guards keep the prisoners inside but little else. Diego’s mother has to pay for food, clothes and even the cell they live in. Money is tight and Diego works as a taxi, making deliveries for the women in the prison, to help make ends meet. When his best friend suggests a way to make a lot of money, quickly, he’s suspicious. But when his family falls on even worse times, he decides to take a chance.

This was an interesting look at life in a Bolivian prison and at the effect of the cocaine trade on this country. Diego is a smart kid who understands good business but gets wrapped up in some very bad business. It’s an easy read that combines drama and fast paced action.

For a human drama I find it a bit light on the character development, however. Aside from Diego, the characters are rather one-dimensional. His mother knits and his sister is demanding, the gangs bully and drug runners are greedy and violent. And Smith, the villain of the piece if you will, is almost a caricature of American influence in less developed countries. He is greedy, self-important, violent and patronizing. It’s hard to care very much for anyone but Diego.

Still, it is well written and it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It would be a good starting point to discuss poverty in the world and the effect of the drug industry.


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