Thursday, September 27, 2007

García's Heart-Liam Durcan

García's Heart
Liam Durcan
Dunne, Nov 2007, $23.95
ISBN 9780312367084

In Montreal teenage Patrick Lazerenko was just another aimless street punk until he was caught vandalizing the Bodega owned by immigrant, Hernan García. However, Patrick got off soft as he is allowed to work off the damage he caused. He becomes part of the Garcia family and considers Hernan as a father figure. In fact it is Hernan's illegal practice helping Central American immigrants with health issues that inspires Patrick to attend medical school and become a doctor.

Decades later, Hernan is exposed as the Angel of Lepaterique, who was part of a CIA sponsored group that tortured Hondurans during the Reagan era. Hernan is brought to The Hague to stand trial as a war criminal accused of abetting detainee torture. Unable to ignore his mentor in trouble and needing to know the truth, Patrick travels to Europe unable to reconcile the man who saved him and gave so much to immigrants in Montreal with the person who could be part of a grouptorturing dissidents.

Patrick holds together this superb contemporary character study as readers observe his myriad of emotions as his hero whom he placed on a pedestal crumbles to the ground. On the one hand he wants Hernan to be exonerated, but also begins to believe his mentor did the nasty deeds. Complicating his feelings towards his father figure is seeing his former lover Hernan’s daughter Celia with in your face references that imply war crime trials for those in charge and participating at Abu Ghraib and Guantomino is appropriate.

Harriet Klausner