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Behind the Mountains

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  70 reviews
First Person Fiction is dedicated to the immigrant experience in modern America. In "Behind the Mountains" Edwidge Danticat tells the story of Celiane and her family's struggles in Haiti and New York.

It is election time in Haiti, and bombs are going off in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. During a visit from her home in rural Haiti, Celiane Espérance and her mother are
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  449 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Carly G
This book behind the mountains is a great story about a girl named “Ce Ce” who lives in Haiti with her mother, brother and grandparents. Her father lives in New York by himself. On day “Ce Ce’s” family visited their aunt, Tante Rose. One day the capital gets bombed. Manman(Ce Ce’s mother) gets a huge cut on her leg and Ce Ce gets a bump on her head. Thanks to a couple of calls Rose makes, Ce Ce’s family get’s to move to New York with her father.
I would recommend this book to people who like rea
Barbara Nutting
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written for Young Adults but I really enjoyed it. Gave me lots of insight in Ms Danticat’s own personal history.
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Behind the mountains by Edwidge Danticat is a story about immigration experience. This story starts off in Haiti in 2000, a time of chaos when there are new elections going on and people are hoping for changes. The main character, Celiane tells her story about life behind the mountains, away from the problems of the city. Her father has been living in New York for several years and he sends money home to them, this helps them survive. Celian's brother Moy wants to live in Port-au-prince, so his ...more
Sara Latta
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I did. After the earthquake, I thought I would write about some YA books with a Haitian theme for my recommendation column. There aren't that many out there (hint, hint, YA authors) but I felt sure that this one by Danticat, a really talented author, would be terrific. It was good, but not great. First of all, it was described as a young adult novel, but it's solidly middle grade. That's OK. But more disappointing was that it seemed to lack emotional depth, t ...more
Gina Castellanos Pelaez
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Short, sweet and insightful as to one of many coming to America stories. Danitcat continues to be among my top favorite authors.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book; but it helps that my extended family just adopted two little girls from Haiti, so that added to the poignancy of the story.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
Meh. This book is told through a young girl’s (I think? Her age is never mentioned) journal entries. It takes place in Haiti in 2000 and follows her journey to America as she and her family struggle to adjust. I feel like this book had the potential to provide great insight, but there were so few details given about the situation in Haiti and the fact that so little happened made this book fall short. The book was extremely anticlimactic and I was rather disappointed, especially since I’ve heard ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, z-721, ya
Behind the Mountains was the first book Danticat wrote for children, and she wrote it as part of a Scholastic series of first-person stories written by immigrants to share the experience of immigrating to the U.S. Intended audience is about the 6th-grade level, though some advanced younger readers, and definitely some older readers could be the intended audience as well. It is written through the eyes of a young protagonist, giving children someone to relate to, but there is much to be gained fr ...more
Behind the Mountains is about a girl name Celiane. She is the main character in this book, as well as her brothers Moy and Manman. They lived in a house that was built by their father in Haiti. Their parents were divorced because they went through hard times together. After they got divorced, their father moved to New York, and the mother died in a car accident. So one day their father sent them money to come to New York. Celiane and her brothers were happy on their journey to New York, but it w ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've read a book that is part of this "First Person Fiction" set of books and I really liked it so I decided I wanted to read this one too. Both this book and the other I read were written in journaling style, and for me, books like that seem to go by so much faster. I like it, but it's sad when it's over.

This book is about a girl name Celiane living in Haiti during a time of election of their president, when some violent people are causing trouble by setting off bombs and killing and harming p
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love Edwidge Danticat. Her writing is poetic but not overdone; it's deceptively simple and graceful. Her characters are complex and beautiful, and Danticat has a perceptive sense of relationships dynamics between characters. This book takes the form of a diary written by Celiane and tells the story of Celiane's family living in Haiti at the time of the 2000 election of Aristide. The first half of the book takes place in Haiti, and the second half takes place in New York City. Therefore, it's a ...more
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Danticat is one of my favorite authors. Fiction or non-fiction I don't believe there is any book she has written that I didn't like. This book would really be a good YA novel especially for a Haitian immigrant child. It's a fast read - achingly simple (as it should be as it is written from a child's perspective) - and yet it is so real and descriptive as it tells essentially two stories. A short period of time in Haiti with a family that has been separated from their father and struggle between ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who love family stories
Recommended to Vera by: my mom
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it liked it
This is another young adult book written by Danticat. The protagonist, Celiane, lives in Haiti with her mother and brother, and they anxiously await the day that their father will send for them to join him in New York. Meanwhile, they prepare for the upcoming election while violence explodes around them. Set against this political backdrop, Celiane's story also focuses on more kid-friendly topics, like her best friend's crush on her older brother, her feelings about her father's absence, and her ...more
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Edwidge Dantcat’s novel Behind the mountains was a very informative reading. It was a very visual type of text, which led you to feel like you where in the middle of the harsh winter setting that were repeatedly mention. The author of the novel used her own connection and story of emigrating from Haiti to New York, and then transformed it into a very well developed reading. The main character Celiane has a similar story to the author, moving from the capital city of Haiti, Port-au-Prince to Broo ...more
Victoria Alvord
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book Behind the Mountains by Edwidge Danticat is a first person fiction book about a woman named Celiane who tells a story about her family's hard times in Haiti and New York. It is election time in Haiti right now and bombs are going off in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and during that time Celiane and her mom take a visit to Haiti to see their home and are nearly killed. Celaine wants to gain a full family again, and the only way to do that is to move to New York City where their Dad ...more
Sam Musher
I was so pleased to see that Danticat had written a middle grade novel! I live and teach in a community with a large Haitian population, so books set in that part of the world are especially valuable for my library. But I only got through half of this. It feels Important, but it's boring. Some of this is, I think, the fault of the diary format -- for instance, when the main character is caught in a bomb blast, that should have been a riveting action scene, but we have to hear about it at a remov ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Edwidge Danticat, imagines the life of Celiane Esperance, a young teen moving to the U.S. The book starts out in the year 2000 as Aristide seeks a second presidency and political unrest breaks out in Port-au-Prince. Celiane and her family get caught up in a scary bombing as the reader imagines what it would be like to live in a country where the suspicion of a rigged election (heavy irony here in August 2016) leads to violent protests.

After finally being cleared to emigrate to New York to join
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think this would be a great independent reading book for some of my intermediate ESL students. The main character is from rural Haiti and experiences the political unrest of Port-au-Prince while visiting an aunt. The character then moves to New York to be reunited with her father.

Personally, I wish her experiences in the U.S. had been delved into more deeply. There were also some complicated passages language-wise that might challenge an ESL student. I wonder though, if Danticat's poetic/prov
Rose Fabienne
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Most young haitian people would like this book because Danticat uses some haitian words that is so funny and most of the haitian immigrant can related their life to this book. This book describe a family life in Haiti that wants to come join their father in America. This family struggles a lots of problem by going to the city during the election period.
I like this book because I can relate it to my life because I also struggles with life by coming to America. Moy one of the character of this bo
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Very good!!! The only reason it did not earn five from me is there were parts in the middle that seemed a little flat/predictable, but perhaps this is because I am used to her more complex structure in non-YA lit. This is definitely an accessible gateway into the Haitian culture, AS WELL AS A BRIDGE to our own!! The book uses more contemporary issues: the Aristide ELECTION in Haiti as opposed to Trujillo or the Duvalier DICTATORSHIPS and the Bush/Gore election controversy. The parallels are defi ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Once again, a good effort by Edwidge Danticat. I'm disappointed on pieces of the story, especially with its quick transitions from the bombing in Haiti to the family's move to New York. Her narrative didn't have its usual flow, but there some strong moments here and there, especially with the ending. I'm probably also being a little more critical than I should because her last book, Claire by the Sea Light, was perfect, simply incredible. I understand this was focused towards a younger crowd, bu ...more
Ms. Wayne
Apr 19, 2007 added it
Shelves: haiti
From the Publisher

It is election time in Haiti, and bombs are going off in the capital city of Port-Au-Prince. During a visit from her home in rural Haiti, Celiane Espérance and her Mother are nearly killed. Looking at her country with new eyes, Celiane Gains a fresh resolve to be reunited with her Father in Brooklyn, New York. The harsh winter and concrete landscape of her new home are a shock to Celiane, who witnesses her parents' struggle to earn a living, her brother's uneasy adjustment to A
Celiane keeps a diary describing her life in Haiti and her subsequent journey to be reunited with her father in America.

While not as lyrical as some of Danticat's writing for adults (Krik? Krak!, for example), Behind the Mountains gives a glimpse into the rhythms of Haitian life and describes a new immigrant's struggles to adapt to life in a strange country.

For me, the most interesting part of the novel is the afterward, where the author briefly describes her own experiences as an immigrant.
Mrs. Francis
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting story about a girl who lives in Haiti and her father lives in New York City. It is written in a diary format (which is pretty cool), and brings you through the trials and tribulations of a family living apart. The family eventually reunites in NYC, but continues their strifes adjusting to life in a "new world". Some of the words are written in Haitian Creole, so if you're not familiar with the language, you will have to check out the glossry as you're reading. Overall, a good stor ...more
Sarah Macdonald
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I love Edwidge Danticat, and there are some hints of her lovely, richly imagistic prose. However, it seems she's taken "for younger readers" to mean simple subject-verb sentences and neither plot nor character development. Instead, it reads like a guide to Haitian cultural history and immigration framed loosely around her main character. I was hoping this would introduce young readers to the stunning prose of Danticat, but it falls so flat, I'd be afraid I'd scare them away from reading her nove ...more
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: home-library
Every one of Danticat's books is a delight. Her narrative voice is so distinctively hers yet conveys such a range of Haitian (and human) experience. Each time I read a new work of hers I feel like I get to know her more, like she has unveiled and shared another layer of herself. She writes about and has herself lived through such pain and sorrow in way that is beautiful, full of light and hope. I do not know of any other contemporary writer with such a gift for writing with grace in the face of ...more
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Behind the mountains is a semi autobiographical novel written for children. Dandicat moved to the US, in 1971 at the age of 10 to join her parents who had left 8 years previously. Celiane, the protagonist, also leaves for the US aged 10 but it is now 2002 and there are many differences for children today as TV and communication technologies have shorten the distance between Haiti and the US. Beautifully written in Dandicats usual poetic simple language.
Liz Murray
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
A book aimed at a YA audience so the prose is simplified compared to Danticat's 'adult' fiction but is touching none the less. I was close to tears at a couple of points. There is no cheap sentimentalism but genuine emotion and feeling. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading Edwidge Danticat's work. It is a relatively easy book to read and I would recommend it to any child who is up to it and would recommend it to all parents. ...more
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Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beac ...more

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