Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
*review copy provided by publisher*
Regina’s Rating: 3 Stars/Grade B
I loved Ms. McCall’s first novel Under the Mesquite. I loved it so much that I repeatedly pushed it on the librarians in my town and now it is on the recommended reading list for 8th graders. I do not claim to have influenced the book being listed …. but I’d like to think my passion for the book had *some* influence. Summer of the Mariposas is different from Under the Mesquite but the same. Both novels center on the relationship between sisters. Both stories involve a Mexican immgrant family living in Texas but very comfortable moving between Mexico and Texas. And in both novels, the familial relationships are intensely important.
Summer of the Mariposas, however, is a novel that is definitely written for a middle grade to younger young adult reading audience. Adults and older teens will enjoy this book, but it is clear the audience is younger. The novel beautifully blends Texas border culture with northern Mexican culture. Interwoven in the story is a very latino style magical realism heavily rooted in Mexican mythology. What Ms. McCall has done is take traditional evil or negative Mexican images and myths, co-opted them and redefined them. I love that. I love that! She does this very effectively and so smoothly that those who are not familiar with these mytholgoies will not notice and those that are familiar with the myths/hisotires sournding La Llorona or Malinche will appreciate what Ms. McCall has done with these stories and the women represented in them.
The eldest sister of a 5 sister sibling group, must keep her sisters together, protect them from evil mythological villains, call on the help of ancient goddesses, and reunite her family. This is a great adventure tale for and about young teenaged girls. Mix in Mexican cultural references (fully defined with a glossary), references (a lot!) to Mexican food, and the positive portrayal of characters not often in young adult and middle age books and what results is a truly unique novel. I preferred Under the Mesquite, however Summer of the Mariposas is a strong written work and I look forward to reading more by her.
Side note – -my 13 year old daughter, who straddles both Mexican and American culture as she is growing up in a house with a father who is a Mexican immigrant and then just plain old me … is reading this book right now. I hope to update with her thoughts on it. This is a book that provides characters and cultural background for young people that she likely would not get in many other places.
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