A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Land of Forgotten Girls is about two sisters from the Philippines who move to Louisiana to stay with their dad and abusive stepmom after their mother dies. They tell beautiful fairy tales to escape their harsh reality. Kids shoplift but are punished, an adult smokes throughout the entire story, and tweens talk about kissing and dating. A girl gets stitches after she's hit by a pinecone. Insults include "stupid," "dumb," and "crap," and there are are a few incidents of adults saying "wetback" and "dirty American." Although kids can learn the importance of never losing hope in hard circumstances and what it means to be a good friend and sibling, parents should be prepared to talk about the story's heavy themes, including death, abandonment, poverty, and child abuse.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sol and Ming live in small-town Louisiana with their evil stepmother, Vea, after their father abandons them and returns to the Philippines. Wracked by guilt over the death of her younger sister, Amelia, Sol will do anything to protect her youngest sister, Ming. Using the vivid imagination she inherited from her mother, who died a year after Amelia, Sol tells stories of Auntie Jove -- their mother's legendary yet fictional adventure-seeking sister -- to inspire Ming to dream big and preserve her innocence. But when Ming begins to believe that Auntie Jove will rescue them, Sol weaves a beautiful tale about THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS -- a magical place where nothing bad happens and kids know they're loved -- as an escape from their bleak reality.
Is it any good?
Erin Entrada Kelly's fairy tale blends pain and suffering with love and hope in this heartbreaking coming-of-age novel. Sol's beautiful tales, independent spirit, and determination to protect Ming at all costs contrast with Vea's coldness and cruelty, but the continuous abuse the sisters experience may be a difficult read for some middle schoolers. Although the ending feels rushed and predictable, it stresses the power of imagination and perseverance while providing a sense of hope for those who may feel forgotten.
Talk to your kids about ...
How many fairy tales did you recognize in the book? How do they help the sisters cope? How does Vea compare to the evil stepmothers or villains of those fairy tales?
What does it mean to be a good sister, daughter, and friend?
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