I recently finished reading Problemas en Paraíso by Carol Gaab for the first time, and I must say that I love it! (It is available in French, too.) Mystery/adventure has always been my genre of choice, and so this novel that centers on the kidnapping of an American teacher while on vacation with her son in Mexico is right up my alley! I think it’s now tied with Carrie Toth’s La Calaca Alegre for my favorite reader–although you could teach Problemas long before Calaca. What I am really enjoying about it is that even though it is written in the past tense, the vocabulary is very limited and has a heavy focus on personal health/reflexive verbs–verbs like gets ready, brushes his/her teeth, wakes up, falls asleep, wears, etc. This makes it unique among the novels that I’ve read (I am sad to say that there are still many readers out there that are collecting dust on my bookshelf, waiting for me to find the time to check them out!). If I were going to be back in the classroom this year teaching Spanish 1B, I would use this novel for sure! I highly recommend it as a comprehensible, contextualized addition to your reflexive/health and personal habits units! If you have a group of students that particularly loves mysteries, check it out!! If you’re looking for historical fiction, biographies, or other genres…well, there are other novels for that!
If you have any specific questions about the novel, feel free to shoot me an email! And click here to download an activity for Chapter 3 of Problemas en Paraíso.