Summer of the Mariposas
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Summer of the Mariposas is the second book by award-winning author Guadalupe Garcia McCall. The novel is a loose adaptation of Homer's Odyssey featuring five Mexican-American sisters, ages 10 to 15, on an epic quest. The girls face danger several times, just like Odysseus, and must vanquish each potential threat to return home to their mother in Texas. Although there is some mild violence, there is no strong language or sex, so it's an educational and entertaining choice for mature middle-grade readers, not just young-adult fans. Readers will learn a great deal about Mexican folklore and legends, as well as many Spanish words and terms. Ultimately, Summer of the Mariposas promotes the bond of sisterhood and the love between mother and daughters.
What's the story?
The five Garza sisters (cinco hermanitas) are enjoying an otherwise unremarkable summer in the border town of Eagle Pass, TX, when they come across a dead body floating in the Rio Grande. After second-oldest Juanita discovers his family photo and license, she convinces her younger sisters -- twins Velia and Delia and baby sis Pita -- to attempt to return the body to his address in Mexico. Oldest sister Odilia, 15, thinks the idea is crazy but when she sees a vision of the mythical La Llorona (the Weeping Woman) insisting they go, she relents. With magical earrings to protect them and La Llorona to guide them, the Garzas head across the border to deliver the man, but their return home to their mother turns into an Odyssey-like journey filled with perilous obstacles.
Is it any good?
McCall obviously writes what she knows; the firsthand knowledge of being raised Mexican and American (with so many sisters!) comes through in her achingly realistic story. Not only did she grow up in the same town as her characters, but she also has five younger sisters to whom she dedicated the book. Although the sisters make a lot of decisions that will make adult readers cringe in horror, it makes perfect sense that alternately naive and know-it-allish preteens and adolescents would make a lot of mistakes on a fantastical journey toward self-discovery and reconciliation with their mother.
The author excels at depicting the love between mothers and children. Whether it's the cancer-stricken Mami in Under the Mesquite or the downtrodden and jilted Mamá (or the eternally grieving La Llorona) in Summer of Mariposas, Garcia McCall beautifully describes the unconditional and fierce way a mother cares for her hijitas. It's hard to find truly multicultural literature for tweens and teens, so it's a relief to know authors like Garcia McCall make it a priority to explore the way bilingual kids navigate both cultures.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the legends and folklore discussed in the book. Is it necessary to be familiar with Mexican culture to understand the story? What did you learn about Mexican history and beliefs?
How does the author transform usually scary figures, like La Llorona or the Chupacabras, into misunderstood creatures who are actually sadder than they are frightening?
How do the elements from the Loteria game (like the names of each chapter) foreshadow plot developments or provide insight about the characters?
|Author:||Guadalupe Garcia McCall|
|Topics:||Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Great girl role models, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires|
|Publisher:||Lee & Low Books|
|Publication date:||October 1, 2012|
|Number of pages:||352|
|Publisher's recommended age(s):||10 - 14|
|Available on:||Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle|