Evangelina Takes Flight
Publication Date: 2017-05-31
It is 1911 and 13-year-old Evangelina loves her life in northern Mexico, from her daily chores to her adoring family and the beauty of her surroundings. As her family celebrates her sister Elsa's quinceañera, news arrives that revolutionaries are due to turn up in their town any day now. To escape the violence, Evangelina and her family travel to Texas, leaving their home and some of their loved ones behind. When they arrive, they are met with hostility from people who erroneously believe they lack hygiene or the ability to learn arithmetic or science. When a meeting is organized to discuss preventing any more Mexicans to continue settling in Seneca, it seems as if the situation will become more hostile for Evangelina's family. With the help of a kindhearted doctor and her new friends Alfonso and Selim, Evangelina finds the strength to hope for a new life in an unfamiliar and unwelcoming place. Written in Evangelina's conscientious voice and containing parallels to some of today's current events, this hopeful, yet sometimes heartbreaking, novel is a fast and important read. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
Publication Date: 2015-06-30
When Sierra's grandfather warns her to finish her mural because "the paintings are fading," she is puzzled, but the only person willing to help her find answers is talented artist Robbie, and even he is reticent. Determined, Sierra finally learns the truth: her grandfather was a powerful shadowshaper, able to animate art with the spirit of a departed soul, and now an interloper, anthropologist Dr. Wick, is trying to steal these powers for himself. As Sierra investigates the shadowshapers, she discovers her own shockingly powerful role in the disappearing community. Apart from being an awesome power, shadowshaping becomes a resonant metaphor for the importance of cultural heritage, as Puerto Rican Sierra and Haitian Robbie draw on and amplify their ancestors' spirits, and their primary concern is keeping their honorable tradition alive in their community. Older's world building echoes that, too, weaving in timely commentary on gentrification, cultural appropriation, and even the shifting social mores of immigrant communities (especially evident in Sierra chafing against her grandfather's machismo). Even if readers don't recognize Older's crafty commentary, they will find plenty to like in the unique fantasy elements, entertainingly well-wrought characters, and cinematic pacing. Smart writing with a powerful message that never overwhelms the terrific storytelling. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Under the Mesquite
Publication Date: 2013-04-01
Like the mesquite tree of the title, Lupita is sturdy and able to survive harsh climates with great potential for recovering from stress. Told in verse sprinkled with Spanish terms (a glossary is included), this story of Lupita's high-school years details her increasing responsibility within her large Mexican American family after Mami is diagnosed with cancer. Caring for seven younger siblings, keeping up with schoolwork and her drama roles, and staying connected with her classmates and friends while the worries gnaw at her take their toll, but she is strong. There are also moments of intense vulnerability. As high-school graduation nears, Lupita sees that her mother may not be there for it: "Suddenly I realize / how much I can't control, how much / I am not promised." The close-knit family relationships, especially Mami and Lupita's, are vividly portrayed, as is the healing comfort Lupita finds in words, whether written in her notebooks or performed onstage. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Publication Date: 1991-01-04
Forced to flee their native Caribbean island after an attempted coup, the Garcias-Carlos, Laura, and their four daughters-must learn a new way of life in the Bronx, while trying to cling to the old ways that they loved. (excerpted from Follett's TitlePeek subscription)
Return to Sender
Publication Date: 2009-01-13
With quiet drama, Alvarez tells a contemporary immigration story through the alternating viewpoints of two young people in Vermont. After 11-year-old Tyler's father is injured in a tractor accident, the family is in danger of losing their dairy farm. Desperate for help, Tyler s family employs Mari s family, who are illegal migrant Mexican workers. Mari writes heartrending letters and diary entries, especially about Mamá, who has disappeared during a trip to Mexico to visit Mari's dying abuelita. Is Mamá in the hands of the border-crossing "coyotes"? Have they hurt her? Will Homeland Security (la migra) raid the farm? The plot is purposive, with messages about the historical connections between migrant workers today and the Indians displacement, the Underground Railroad, and earlier immigrants seeking refuge. But the young people s voices make for a fast read; the characters, including the adults, are drawn with real complexity; and the questions raised about the meaning of patriotism will spark debate. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Publication Date: 2003-09-09
During her family's annual car trip from Chicago to Mexico City, Lala Reyes listens to stories about her family, including her grandmother, the descendant of a renowned dynasty of shawl makers, whose magnificent striped (or caramelo) shawl has come into Lala's possession, in a multi-generational saga of a Mexican-American family. (excerpted from Follett's TitlePeek subscription)
Publication Date: 2008-08-12
Biracial Danny Lopez doesn't think he fits anywhere. He feels like an outsider with his Mexican father's family, with whom he is staying for the summer, and at his mostly white school, and he wonders if his confusion drove his father away. He also struggles with his obsession for baseball; a gifted player with a blazing fastball, he lacks control of his game. With the support of a new friend and his caring cousins, Danny begins to deal with the multitude of problems in his life, which include his tendency to cut himself, an unusual characteristic in a male YA protagonist. The author juggles his many plotlines well, and the portrayal of Danny's friends and neighborhood is rich and lively. Where the story really lights up is in the baseball scenes, which sizzle like Danny's fastball. A violent scene, left somewhat unresolved, is the catalyst for him to confront the truth about his father. Danny's struggle to find his place will speak strongly to all teens but especially to those of mixed race. Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
Out of Darkness
Publication Date: 2015-09-01
Pérez's latest-following The Knife and the Butterfly (2012)-is a powerful work of historical fiction set in New London, Texas, that revolves around events leading up to the horrific 1937 school explosion that killed close to 300 people. This gripping story centers on high-school senior Naomi, a Mexican American girl who recently arrived from San Antonio with her half siblings, twins Beto and Cari, and their father, oil-field worker Henry. Naomi's struggle to learn how to take care of the household chores is complicated by her dark past with Henry and the overt racism she faces in the segregated town. She reluctantly befriends and then falls in love with an African American boy, Wash, who is both brilliant and kind to her younger brother and sister. Pérez's skillful use of multiple perspectives creates a full and well-rounded sense of place and story. Elegant prose and gently escalating action will leave readers gasping for breath at the tragic climax and moving conclusion. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
Publication Date: 2014-10-14
Reading Quintero's debut is like attending a large family fiesta: it's overpopulated with people, noise, and emotion, but the overall effect is joyous. Presented as the diary of 17-year-old Mexican American Gabi, it covers a senior year ostensibly filled with travail, from a first kiss to first sex; from dealing with a meth-head father to a constantly shaming mother; from the pregnancies of two classmates to Gabi's own fear of becoming "Hispanic Teen Mom #3,789,258." But that makes the book sound pedantic, and it's anything but. Unlike most diary-format novels, this truly feels like the product of a teenager used to dealing with a lot of life's b.s. Sure, she is depressed at times, but just as often she is giddy with excitement about her new boyfriend (and then the one after that), or shrugging at the weight she just doesn't feel like losing. If there is a structuring element, it's the confidence-building poems Gabi writes for composition class, which read just like the uncertain early work of a nonetheless talented fledgling writer. Quintero, on the other hand, is utterly confident, gifting us with a messy, complicated protagonist who isn't defined by ethnicity, class, weight, or lifestyle. Gabi is purely herself-and that's what makes her universal. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Publication Date: 2002-05-01
Moving from a Mexican ranch to the company labor camps of California, Ryan's lyrical novel manages the contradictory: a story of migration and movement deeply rooted in the earth. When 14-year-old Esperanza's father is killed, she and her mother must emigrate to the U.S., where a family of former ranch workers has helped them find jobs in the agricultural labor camps. Coming from such privilege, Esperanza is ill prepared for the hard work and difficult conditions she now faces. She quickly learns household chores, though, and when her mother falls ill, she works packing produce until she makes enough money to bring her beloved abuelita to the U.S.. Set during the Great Depression, the story weaves cultural, economic, and political unrest into Esperanza's poignant tale of growing up: she witnesses strikes, government sweeps, and deep injustice while finding strength and love in her family and romance with a childhood friend. The symbolism is heavy-handed, as when Esperanza ominously pricks her finger on a rose thorne just before her father is killed. But Ryan writes movingly in clear, poetic language that children will sink into, and the books offers excellent opportunities for discussion and curriculum support. -Gillian Engberg Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Publication Date: 2017-03-07
Seventeen-year-old Sal has had both bad luck and great luck with family. His mother died when he was three, but she ensured he would be adopted by her best friend, Vicente, a loving gay man who brings with him a large, welcoming Mexican American family. He has also been blessed with his best friend, Sam, a girl with mother issues. Sal has mostly led a tranquil life, but his senior year turns out to contain unexpected upsets and sorrows, though also deeper chances to understand love. Sáenz presents readers with several beautifully drawn relationships, especially that of Sal and his grandmother, who is dying of cancer-there is richness even in their silences. There are also some wonderful moments between father and son, though Vicente's perfection as a parent can defy belief (not surprisingly, he's compared to Atticus Finch). There are times when the story is weighed down by repetitive conversations, but there are numerous heartfelt moments as well. Sal is one of those characters you wonder about after the book is closed. Maybe Sáenz will tell us more. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
On the Edge
Publication Date: 2014-11-25
"When Maddie Diaz witnesses the murder of a homeless man by members of a gang, she tells the cops what she saw without thinking about the repercussions of snitching, but a mysterious guy named Lobo comes to her defense and is determined to take down the gang and protect her" (excerpted from Follett's TitlePeek subscription service)
In the Time of the Butterflies
Publication Date: 2010-01-12
"It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found dead near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their death as accidental. It does notmention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's dictatorship. It doesn't have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas-the Butterflies. In this extraordinary novel,the voices of all four sisters-Minerva, Patria, Marâia Teresa, and the survivor, Dedâe-speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo's rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez's imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage, love, and the human cost of political oppression" (excerpted from Follett's TitlePeek subscription service)
The House on Mango Street
Publication Date: 1991-04-03
The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. (excerpted from Follett's TitlePeek subscription service)
Publication Date: 2007-12-26
Marcus Mendoza, aka Nub because of a severed index finger, narrates this hard-hitting and profane novel about parental abuse. From the opening sentence, the writing shocks, then mesmerizes readers, making its title an apt choice. Hernandez powerfully describes the harsh life of working poor families and their children as victims. Marcus imagines there are others like him, a "whole dissatisfied throng, T-shirted and disheveled and angry at the world." As readers ride with the brothers on their journey of vengeance, Enrique, Marcus's younger brother, steps into the spotlight. Enrique has suffered years of physical beatings from their father, a man who bolted to Monterey, Calif., a year before the story opens. The journey to hunt down their father is fueled by hits of acid and "gourmet marijuana," as Hernandez skillfully produces sobering descriptions of prior tragedies. The climax crackles with suspense, but the last 20 pages have a tacked-on vibe that's a slight letdown. Nevertheless, Hernandez's solid first YA effort will have readers clamoring for his next work. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Shame the Stars
Publication Date: 2016-09-15
Pura Belpré Award winner McCall (Under the Mesquite, 2011) chooses the tumultuous borderlands of Texas and Mexico at the time of the Mexican Revolution as the setting for her latest. Loosely based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, this story's lovestruck, but not quite so ill-fated, teens face opposition from their families and the growing unrest in their community. Eighteen-year-old Joaquín del Toro can think of nothing but Dulceña Villa, though a feud between their families means that the pair's interactions are limited to secret notes and meetings. Their romance is but a framework for the violence erupting in their Texas county between Tejanos (Texans) and Anglo Rangers, who are practicing their own brand of racism-driven vigilante justice. Though the dialogue doesn't always ring true, the historical aspects of the narrative are eye-opening. McCall infuses the little-discussed uprising in South Texas with Spanish (defined in a glossary) and primary-source newspaper clippings, and gives women a vital role in the Tejano fight for justice. A powerful story of love in the face of great odds. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Publication Date: 2012-02-21
When Aristotle and Dante meet, in the summer of 1987, they are 15-year-olds existing in "the universe between boys and men." The two are opposites in most ways: Dante is sure of his place in the world, while Ari feels he may never know who he is or what he wants. But both are thoughtful about their feelings and interactions with others, and this title is primarily focused on the back-and-forth in their relationship over the course of a year. Family issues take center stage, as well as issues of Mexican identity, but the heart of the novel is Dante's openness about his homosexuality and Ari's suppression of his. Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, 2004) writes toward the end of the novel that "to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing." And that's exactly what Sáenz does-he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other. This moves at a slower pace than many YA novels, but patient readers, and those struggling with their own sexuality, may find it to be a thought-provoking read. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.