Why my book matters: Part II

riobookHave you ever faced a lose-lose proposition?

In real life as in fiction, the hero is sometimes given an impossible choice. Perhaps Meryl Streep’s finest academy award was earned for her portrayal of Zofia Zawistowski in the 1982 movie, “Sophie’s Choice.” Zofia’s life was forever changed when she became a prisoner in Auschwitz and had to choose which of her two children would be sent to the gas chamber and which would be placed into a Nazi labor camp with still a chance of surviving. There was no winning.

In the slums of Rio de Janeiro, better known as “favelas”, thousands of homeless children are forced to make similar choices. If you were a child from the slums of Rio (or many other slums around the world including my home town of Chicago), how would you deal with some of the following choices?

  • Am I better off staying with my prostitute mother who is hooked on crack cocaine or live on the streets?
  • Will I earn more begging for scraps or stealing from tourists?
  • Am I safer joining a drug gang for protection or running the risk of death-by-ambush from vigilante death squads or rival gangs?
  • Am I really committing a sin if I murder to protect my own?

“RIO – Reluctant Ascension to Infamy,” the book I have just finished, is a young adult thriller that forces sixteen year-old Lucas Rocha to make many tough decisions in order for his dwindling family to survive. Yet despite his adversity, he fervently believes that he can still somehow achieve a better life for his younger twin sisters.


Set against the magnificent landscape of Rio de Janeiro in 2008 at the onset of a massive slum overhaul for the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Lucas Rocha’s odyssey is no different than millions of slum dwellers in the world. Stay tuned for my book, “Rio – Reluctant Ascension to Infamy” and in the meantime, I encourage you to subscribe to my weekly newsletter about some compelling human interest stories from Rio or possibly even your own home city.  Stay tuned.

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