Monday, September 5, 2016

Playing for the Devil's Fire by Phillippe Diederich - Review

Playing for the Devil's Fire
by Phillippe Diederich
Cinco Punta Press
Audience: Middle School and above
Mexico City * Lucha Libra * Drugs * Poverty

"I guess that's what I always liked about these movies. They weren't about heroes with supernatural powers. They were about real people. They gave me the feeling that I too could be like..."

Fourteen year-old Liberio's, aka Boli, daily struggles include his love for the much older Ximena (19) and trying to pull together enough money to see one of his favorite luchadors, El Hijo del Santo, wrestle in the upcoming fair.

Mosca and Boli spend most of their afternoons in the plaza and around the City of Izayoc shining shoes and playing marbles. Then someone discovers the head of el profe Quintanilla and, not long after,  the body of Rocio Morales.  Troubles seemed to have arrived with the appearance of Joaquin Carrillo. Soon many of the stores in Izayoc start shutting down and people close to Boli start disappearing. Can Boli and, a down on his luck lucho libre, Chicano find out what's happening without putting themselves or anyone else in danger?

The mystery of Playing for the Devil's Fire sucks you in slowly. As Boli's fear for his life and those of his loved ones increases, so does the readers fear. You want to warn him. As the true motivations of the characters are revealed, Boli's innocence is threatened as he doesn't know who to trust. The love of money changes almost everyone but has a deep and dark influence over the law enforcement. No one is trying to help, believing they will be the next to lose their businesses or their lives.

There were a couple of times I wondered how old Boli and his sister were, based on their actions as well as the celebrities mentioned (Pancho Villa, El Chavo di ocho, and the calendar of Tania Rincon). Gaby is seventeen but doesn't go to school. She practically runs the bakery and enters into a contract.

Overall, it was an exciting window into another culture. Since there is a glossary in the back, Diederich doesn't stop the story to translate any words or phrases, many of which you can glean from context clues.  He lays out the varying levels of poverty and how each affects character. The ending is quick and leaves you wondering about Boli and his future.

About The Author

Phillippe Diederich is a Haitian-American writer. Born in the Dominican Republic, he was raised in Mexico City and Miami. His parents were kicked out of Haiti by the dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier in 1963. He spent his youth listening to his parents and friends talking politics and nostalgically dreaming of the day they would return to Haiti. In 1980, the family moved to Miami, where they joined a community of exiles from all parts of Latin America—Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador. Like other children of exiles, Diederich grew up without his relatives—grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts. Diederich traveled repeatedly to Cuba as a photojournalist throughout the 1990s. He has an MFA in creative writing from the University of South Florida and lives in Florida.

Blog Tour

August 31: Rich in Color review (
Sept 1: The Pirate Tree review & interview (
Sept 4: Guest Post for Clear Eyes, Full Shelves (
Sept 5: Review, The Brain Lair (
Sept 6: Rich in Color author interview (
September 7: Edi Campbell CrazyquiltEdi review (
September 8: Anastasia Suen, #KidLitBookoftheday (
September 9: Reading Through Life author highlight plus links to blog tour (
Sept 9: Guest Post, The Brain Lair (
September 12: Linda Washington ( )
September 13: Excerpt, Review, and Guest Post at Mom Read it (

1 comment:

  1. This looks great. I know a few middle school boys who love wrestling so I love the luchadors in the book!


Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Saturday Stories kit by Lien