The Land of Forgotten Girls

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
The Land of Forgotten Girls Book Poster Image
Sisters search for hope in heartbreaking coming-of-age tale.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids can learn Cebuano words and the importance of storytelling in Filipino culture. There are several references to beloved fairy tales, including Snow White and Cinderella, and historical figures Ferdinand Magellan and Helen of Troy in Sol's stories.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the power of imagination, perseverance, and love, plus the importance of never losing hope and finding something to believe in.

Positive Role Models & Representations
Sol will do anything to protect her younger sister. She's smart and independent, and she befriends the girl she used to bully. Mrs. Yeung looks out for the girls even when they don't realize it and provides a safe haven. Although she isn't real, Auntie Jove inspires the girls to use their imaginations and dream big.
Violence

Sol and Ming endure physical and verbal abuse from their stepmother, Vea, who spits in their hair, pinches their noses until they bleed, and punishes them by making them kneel on rice or sending them into the closet for extended periods of time. Vea also torments Ming by using her beloved stuffed animal as an ashtray. She also insults the girls and their parents and tells them they aren't loved. A girl gets stitches after she's hit by a pinecone.

Sex

Tweens talk about kissing and dating.

Language

Vea constantly insults Sol and Ming with names such as "stupid liar," "dirty rat," "evil witch," and so on. Kids say "dumb" and "crap." Slurs include "wetback" and "dirty American."

Consumerism

Kids shoplift, but only one character gets caught and punished. Brands include Stop-N-Go and New Orleans Saints. Sol is clearly aware of the distinction between the rich and poor sides of town.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult smokes throughout the 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. 

User Reviews

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Kid, 10 years old June 29, 2018

Heartbreaking novel is a must-read

The Land of Forgotten Girls is yet another amazing book by Erin Entrada Kelly, but even though I'm ten I don't think it's appropriate for kids my... Continue reading

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 ...

  • Families can talk about how The Land of Forgotten Girls deals with child abuse, bullyingviolence, and grief. How do these issues affect the characters, especially Sol and Ming?

  • 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?

Book details

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