What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that teens drink here, but in Mexican culture a small amount of teen drinking is acceptable. There is some sexism and anti-Mexican racism.
What's the story?
A fictionalized memoir of growing up in the warm embrace of the Mexican-American barrio of McAllen, Texas. For Sofia the center of her life is her extended family and her comadres, the girls who will become her lifelong ... well, friends seems too pale a word for this intense, mutually supportive relationship.
But Sofia has dreams beyond the barrio, and a pivotal event in her childhood gives her the drive to achieve them. When she wins a scholarship to an Episcopal boarding school hundreds of miles away her family is reluctant to let her go, but determined to keep her tied firmly to her roots when she does.
Is it any good?
First-time novelist Viola Canales has accomplished what few before her have managed: to create a realistic, but not didactic, portrait of life within a particular culture, in this case Mexican-American in Texas, that will resonate with others from that culture and has such appeal that non-Mexican readers will wish it was their culture too. The details of foods, traditions, rituals, clothing are warm, rich and loving, and so integrated into the daily life and mindset of all the characters that it creates a yearning in the reader to experience it firsthand.
When Sofia steps out of her community into one very alien to her -- a mostly white Protestant boarding school -- she neither loses touch with her home and culture nor feels an outsider in her new setting. While she faces some prejudice in her new school, she also finds support, close friends, and a superb education while remaining true to herself. This is a lovely, moving, warmhearted story that lingers long after the last page.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about some of the book's secondary themes such as the importance of education, maintaining ties to home and friends, and the centrality of family.
Why, in this ever-changing world, should we hold on to culture and
What do they do for us, and why are they important?