AN ODE TO TEACHERS
The job of the teachers is often questioned, and I do believe is one of the most difficult jobs, because not everybody is able to instill something and explain to a group of children, teenagers and adults, that are not always willing to listen. You need to know how to motivate them, delight them, with the aim of teaching them. A complicated task, and I think, very vocational. For this reason, the last book by Ángeles Doñate, author of “The winter when we put everything in black and white”, translated into 10 languages, returns with a story that touches our heart: El último vagón (the last wagon). It begins with the real story about the wagon-schools that existed in Mexico while the railway tracks were being constructed, Ángeles tells the story of Ikal, a boy of eleven years old, son of a railway worker and that dreams with being a teacher. He looks up to Chico, counts trains with Tuerto, fancies Valeria and lives with Quetzal, his dog.
They are all Ernesto’s pupils in the Malinalli Teneolat wagon-school, during the year that will change their lives. Between fields and old wagons, the students will discover what life is about thanks to the passion of their teacher, but a photo in black and white of all of them, that lays in an abandoned file in the Secretary of Education, will become the worst nightmare of Hugo Valenzuela, a brilliant inspector. The teacher needs to retire, and some politicians believe that the time has come to put an end to an old-fashioned and useless educational model. Hugo is not convinced and decides to pull the strings on a journey that will take him back to his past, and where his future is at stake, with marks that cannot be erased like those by the first love or by a teacher who opened the windows to the world.
A fantastic book that touches you, and where you discover a reality. People who fight for what they love, to help others who, due to their circumstances, live like nomads following a railway line, without a place of their own. People who finally find someone who values education and believes that it is a right for everybody: his desire is that those children had the same opportunities as others. I wish there were many “Ernestos” everywhere who knew how to instill love and the desire to fight for others.I hope that this ode to education will be a best-selling book this spring, not only because of what it means, but also because Ángeles has proved once again that her narrative is unique and that goes straight to the reader’s heart.