Caroline Alethia is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, on radio and in web outlets. Her words have reached audiences on six continents. She lived in Bolivia and was a witness to many of the events described in Plant Teacher.
Readers can learn more about Caroline Alethia and her work by visiting the following links:
Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it.
The two main characters in Plant Teacher, Martin Banzer and Cheryl Lewis, arrive in Bolivia just in time to witness President Evo Morales’ heavy-handed consolidation of power. Their stories unfold against a backdrop of protest marches, hunger strikes, and lethal push-back from the government. Both Martin and Cheryl are recent college graduates and, as young people, they are often more concerned about their own lives than about the turbulent political change that surrounds them.
At the same time — and I witnessed this during my own sojourn in Bolivia during this time period — many in the population developed a similarly schizophrenic approach to life. While the protestors amassed in the streets, people still relaxed in their favorite coffee shops, attended outdoor concerts, and went on excursions to the countryside, as if all the hysteria was not happening. I hope that readers will be interested in how easily people can compartmentalize the different strands in their lives. We all have a need for normalcy, and we will create normalcy even when the world around us is in tumult.
Who are your favorite characters in the story?
Martin is my favorite character in the story. He could easily be a caricature; he is an extremely wealthy kid with a pampered but also neglected upbringing, and at the beginning of the book he is dissatisfied and spoiled. He makes a life-changing mistake toward the beginning of the narrative, and this mistake forces him to mature. As I was fleshing out his character, I enjoyed the way he evolved from dissatisfied to determined.