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Death of a Saloon

post written by Emma Filbrun

Death of a Saloon by Pablo YoderTitle: Death of a Saloon
Author: Pablo Yoder
Major Themes: Costa Rica, Missionaries
Synopsis: All her life, Teodolinda has longed for something better than the drunken carousing around her.

We have come to really like Pablo Yoder’s books. He writes true stories from his family’s life as missionaries in Central America. He has lived in Costa Rica and Nicaragua since he was around 10 years old, in the late 1960s, when his family moved to Costa Rica. These stories are fascinating accounts of God’s working among people.

Death of a Saloon tells the story of one woman, Teodolinda Valverde. Until she was 17, her family lived in the hot lowlands of Costa Rica, but then her father moved the family to the highlands where it rained more. Soon, LicoValverde came around to court her and within a year they were married. Although their life was fairly hard, it was also fairly happy—until Lico and his sons began making contraband liquor and staying drunk most of the time. Teodolinda longed for peace and happiness, but the only way she could imagine finding it was through the local Catholic church. Her disillusionment grew with every religious ceremony conducted in their mountain community. The local Catholic leader would race through prayers—and the rest of the night would be spent in dancing, drinking, and fighting. Surely there must be something better, but where could the family find it?

God’s hand remained on the Valverde family, and eventually most of the 16 children, as well, as their parents, did find the peace they longed for. This is a beautiful, true story of God’s work among the people of Costa Rica. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Though a true story, it reads almost like a novel.

WARNING: Drunken fights, with a few knifings, make this better for upper teens than for children, but with a little censoring or at least discussion it should be safe for a family read-aloud.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults


Links to buy Death of a Saloon:

Amazon: Paperback

AbeBooks: View Choices on


Costa Rica, Missionaries

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