Streets of Golfito focuses on two individuals who meet in Golfito, Costa Rica in 1974. Jim (Diego) is a 22-year-old Peace Corps Volunteer from upstate New York, and he has been assigned to introduce sports other than soccer to the young people. By contrast, Lilli is a shy, beautiful, 17-year-old Costa Rican girl who wants to learn English and escape her small town, a banana port on the Pacific side near the Panamanian border. In alternating chapters, the first third of the book shows these two characters growing up in their respective countries. Then, after they meet, Lilli experiences a tragedy that will drastically change her life, and Jim does all he can to help her survive and thrive in her new circumstances.
Plot: In the early 1970s, Peace Corps volunteer Jim (Diego) travels to Costa Rica, hoping to improve lives. There he meets Lilli, a beautiful young girl who undergoes a shocking act of violence and who will need Jim's help in ways no one could have anticipated.
Prose/Style: LaBate convincingly and painstakingly depicts the small Costa Rican village in which he lays his scene. The past tense third-person omniscient narration is somewhat static, with not enough dialogue to convey a sense of interest and immediacy to the tale.
Originality: Streets of Golfito is a heartfelt account of youthful idealism in a simpler age. Based on the author's own experiences, the novel deals with cultural identity and a young man's attempt to change the world for the better.
Character Development/Execution: The relationship between Lilli and Jim (Diego) is delicate and is tenderly portrayed. The characters could be more complex, in order to sustain a plot that holds few surprises.
Date Submitted: August 28, 2021
Two Reviews of Streets of Golfito by Jim LaBate
An Article about Streets of Golfito in the Albany Times Union