Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 316

In Tell Me How It Ends, author Valeria Luiselli writes in a colloquial style which uses the resources of tone and rhetoric to create a distinctive narrative voice. This voice is characterized by moral anger and an implicit claim to justice on behalf of the immigrant children who are her subjects. Luiselli openly identifies herself as a novelist who is concerned with how storytelling practices shape and are shaped by human experience. Thus, the content of the book centers around questions of how immigrant children understand their own stories. What are the gaps in those stories? What are the silences? And how do the stories end? To the limited extent that the book holds out hope for readers, it does so on the basis of the claim that we do not yet know how these children's stories end.

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The tonal devices used by Luiselli include profanity and expressions of exasperation at the state of the world. She notes that "Many of us are falling apart and so, it seems, is everything good." The decision to employ generalization reflects her sense of moral anger and offended righteousness. She implicitly includes herself, however, amongst the "many of us" who are "falling apart," even as she tries to locate causes for hope in a world that has, by her account, been turned "upside down." This figure of speech implies, of course, some particular understanding of what the world would look like if it were "right-side up." What that vision includes—beyond compassion and fairness—is not entirely clear. This is not a book of policy. To Luiselli's mind, because she is a novelist, she should have been able to "predict" the current state of the world, which suggests the strong linkage between her conception of professional identity and moral responsibility. The book suggests a way to bridge storytelling practices and corrective practice to relieve the suffering of immigrant families.

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