Friday, November 7, 2008

A great article/review by Edith Kirby was recently published in the Edmonton Journal.

Immigrant’s biography reveals
miraculous tale of survival

Remember those stories of “gallant” South American men who would capture a young girl and ride away on horseback with her? Then they’d demand a ransom from the father, or keep the lovely daughter. As a teenager I’d think, Oh, how romantic!
As a child in Guatemala, Gabriela A. Folgar de Shea was kidnapped and raped.
But there was nothing romantic about the real capture of Gabriela A. Folgar de Shea. No longer a young senorita, she now lives in Edmonton. Angels Along My Path of Thorns is the can’t-put-it-down story of her kidnapping and rape at 15, the medical problems she suffered as a result, and of her indomitable spirit.
The 1950s and ’60s were a very macho time in her home country of Guatemala. Her mother, although a somewhat mysterious figure in the book, left her husband, and Gabriela became a servant to her father and brothers. Women weren’t thought to need education; they were wives, mothers, and protected daughters. Like any teenage girl, Gabriela had other ideas. She was in love and determined to get an education. But time after time, circumstances interfered with her dreams.
At 15, she was kidnapped, then later forced to marry her brutal captor. The book tells of his cruelty; of her struggles with her father and brothers; and of her never-ending efforts to stay in school. When she got away from her tormentor, briefly, it was to find her first love, who turned his back on her as she was no longer a virgin — as if it were her fault! But it was a man’s world down there.
Folgar de Shea leaves no detail out of her book. How she survived is the miracle she relates to us.
Folgar de Shea emigrated to Canada in 1974 and kept her mind on her goal: an education. She succeeded. She’s now a social worker for the City of Edmonton. (There’s an interesting little side story connected to the necklace she wears in the accompanying picture.)
Angels Along MyPath of Thorns, despite the language, was a book I couldn’t put down. Any foul language isn’t just thrown in; it’s an essential part of the story, a story that has the makings of a good movie. So in this case only, I renege on my vow to never review books using foul language.
To read more about the book, which won second place in the biography category of the 2008 International Latino Book Awards, go to the author’s website at www.gabshea.com. You can buy Angels at Audreys Books, online at www.amazon.com or www.chapters indigo.ca, or from the author herself, by e-mailing gabrielita@shaw.ca. This is one heck of a good read!
Gabriela was born in 1948 — I’ll let you do the math. And her birthday just happens to be today, Nov. 7. So let’s all wish this courageous Spanish-speaking lady Feliz Cumpleanos!