Cristina, the young protagonist of Tree of Desire, and her little brother Joaquín run away from a home that is outwardly normal, but inwardly disfunctional. Lost on the streets of Mexico City, they confront some of the most terrifying aspects of city life. Or is it all a dream? The story suggests, without confirming, that sexual abuse has driven Cristina to her desperate escape. But is it an escape? Are they awakening from a dream, or reentering a nightmare?
Serafín, too, is lost in the city. Searching for his father who has deserted the family, he is virtually helpless amid the city dangers. Serafín finds compassion in surprising places, but will he survive to return to his mother and their rural village?
These two novels by one of Mexico's premier writers illuminate many aspects of contemporary Mexican life. Solares describes Mexico's different social classes with Dickensian realism. His focus on young protagonists, unusual in Mexican literature, opens a window onto problems of children's vulnerability that know no national borders. At the same time, his use of elements of the fantastic and the paranormal, and his evocative writing style, make reading his novels a most pleasurable experience.