Bolivar’s Heart
by Margaret Donnelly

"Isabel is a symbol of what the Spanish feared the most in the Americas, an indigenous woman with a very powerful lineage associated with the mythological foundation of the region."

Author, lawyer, community leader, social activist, and humanitarian Donnelly examines international human trafficking through the lens of indigenous and Latin American culture and spirituality in this passionate historical novel. Isabel and Antonio Condorcanqui, a Quechuan brother and sister who are the "bloodline descendants of the mythical founder of the Inca, Manco Cápac," are kidnapped in 1973 at ages seventeen and fifteen by soldiers serving the Chilean dictator Pinochet, who aims to destroy any indigenous claim to spirituality and power in the Andean regions of South America.

Both siblings presume that the other may be dead as the years pass. Antonio escapes his captors to become a revolutionary and later serves as a policeman. Isabel's life is especially difficult. She endures forty years in captivity as a domestic worker in Brazil, Spain, and briefly in the U.S. before her captors are raided by ICE. By cutting her wrists in a suicide attempt at that moment, she lands in a mental health ward of a Dallas hospital and is questioned by lawyers who seek to help her overcome her past trauma by granting her asylum.

Some chapters present an impressive amount of information about Quechua and Incan culture, the Spanish inquisition, the folktales and facts about the burial of the legendary Simón Bolívar's heart, and the topic of disappeared indigenous people in Latin America who live and die within the dark, insular world of human slavery. The tale sometimes grows heavy under the full to bursting encyclopedia of narrative and dialogue containing these facts and supporting data. However, this quality will keep inquisitive readers turning pages because the articulate, intelligent writing and the interesting mix of historical figures and strong fictional characters serve well to educate and enlighten as well as entertain.

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