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 Maldonao Miracle by Theodore Taylor (The Cay), is a coming-of-age story about a boy separated from his father -- and having to make complicated moral decisions as he migrates from Mexico to the United States. Readers will appreciate the author's take on the difficult situation faced by immigrants, and the tough decisions families have to make. José may be a bit two-dimensional, but he is a likable and noble hero. Some of the content, especially the potential child molester, may be a bit intense for young tweens, making this novel best for kids 12 and up.
What's the story?
José's mother is dead, and his father left him alone four months ago to find migrant work in the U.S. Finally summoned to join his father, José enters the country illegally, only to find that his father's not where they were supposed to meet. Hiding in a church, he unknowingly drips some blood on a statue of Christ, which is seen by the impoverished townspeople as a miracle. Now José is caught between his fear of God and his fear of endangering himself and his father.
Is it any good?
The story is interesting and at times exciting, and José is a likable and noble hero, though from start to finish he remains a two-dimensional character. The author does attempt to have him gain more confidence at the end, but it seems to come from nowhere. When it was first published in 1973 the allusions about pedophilia may have gone over children's heads, but they are unlikely to now, which makes the book a better choice for kids 12 and up.
Award-winning author Theodore Taylor is perhaps best known for The Cay, a rich and complex novel during which the main character grows and changes dramatically. The Maldonado Miracle is considerably simpler, a straightforward, though gripping, story without much subtlety or character development.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about immigration stories. How does José's story compare with other movies or books you know about kids coming to America?
This story is written by the same author who wrote the classic The Cay, which is an adventure story with a strong anti-racism message. Do you see anything similar in the books' themes?
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