Article from the Oklahoma Banker, September 2019
“Mirador” is written in the historic tradition, taking a relatively unknown event and enlarging it in human terms through the lives of its characters. Jennings has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, including Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Chiapas, where he has seen the poverty of the local people first-hand.
In the early 1990s the United States made an agreement with Canada and Mexico known as NAFTA or North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. It was supposed to establish trade in which the Mexican common people would benefit as much as business owners and employees. Nothing, however, changed. The peasants realized the deal was a sham and began to demonstrate and protest against the role of government and big corporations and insisted on the institution of democracy and free rights for all Mexicans including the majority of peasants who were literally being starved to death in poverty wages. The military stepped up their vigilante behavior and began kidnapping protestors and peasants, who became known as victims or desaparecido or disappeared ones.
MIRADOR is about a revolution which was inspired by NAFTA as a way for the poorest indigenous people of the Chiapas Jungles of Mexico to attempt to stop the USA scooping up their property and their way of life. It only succeeded for a short period of time and now the USA is at it again – destroying people’s homeland and heritage – primarily for greed.
The novel opens with the mission trip a year before the uprising, and there are already signs that things are not quite what was promised. Borders with armed guards exist everywhere, their guide occasionally grew sullen explaining the situation to them, and the evidence of state police beating people in front of the crew before they even got to Mirador. Their guide gives them all (and by extension us) the background into the place, the poverty of its people, and the simmering anger that the tourists were unaware of. Because of the back and forth with the other tourists, as well as the asides that indicate he knows far more than he is telling them, this doesn’t feel like an info dump but an actual conversation. The jungles are beautifully described, and it is a vivid rendering that makes you feel as though you’re there in the stifling heat or floating down the river along with the characters.
Nate Hunter has no desire to visit Chiapas, Mexico. It’s 1993, dawn of the Internet Age, and his star as a brilliant computer engineer is on the rise. He wants to stay put and focus on his work. But his wife, Sarah, a dedicate nurse, wants to save the world. Invited to join a mission trip to the village of Mirador, deep in the Lancadon Jungle, she decides she’s going, and Nate won’t let her go alone. He knows the looming enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is causing unrest among the campesinos and the government is cracking down on protests. The pastor leading the trip insists it’s safe. Beneath the promised safety and surface calm, a rebellion is brewing. A group of peasants calling themselves Zapatistas is preparing for war. By the time the group reaches Mirador, Nate realizes the trip is a mistake. That evening, Sarah tangles with the leader of a parliamentary group, triggering events that lead Nate to a secret rebel camp deep in the jungle, where unforgiving tests and a newfound sense of purpose challenge everything he believes about himself as a husband, lover, fighter, and man.
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
“This is one of those historical fiction novels where it is apparent that the author spent some time doing research and getting it right. From the very beginning, the author not only let the reader know the characters were in for a dramatic ride, but he also ensured that the reader was strapped in tight to enjoy the ride along with the characters.”