It’s late summer and Hurricane Irene is blowing, counterclockwise, toward the United States. Roovens Monchil is sitting in a hot, dingy Valley Place Apartments unit near Stone Mountain Highway. The door hangs open, but there’s no breeze. Roovens is far enough from the Atlantic coast, which Irene is expected to slam with 100-mile-an-hour winds. The thirteen-year-old watches the news on a donated television, digesting information in a new language. Someone stole his Nintendo Wii two weeks ago. It was a gift from the nurse.
According to the man on the TV, the hurricane will hit Haiti before reaching the United States. Haiti is where Roovens’s mother lives, where he spent his first decade. It’s also where he lay in a courtyard by the street almost two years ago, presumed dead.
If asked, he’ll display the seven-inch scar along his right thigh, and point to the one beside his right ear. American metal is in him now. It helps him stand, and move. But don’t be fooled: His strength comes ...