The Tequila Worm

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Tequila Worm Book Poster Image
Moving tale of Texas Latina going to White boarding school.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Family, tradition, and culture ground you, even when you encounter and explore another culture. Be true to yourself.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sofia is strong, values education, remains true to herself in her new setting while treasuring home and family. She faces some prejudice in her new school but also finds support, close friends. Some sexism and anti-Mexican racism, but it's portrayed in a delicate way.


References to kissing.


Various stores and candy brands mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, some underage.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Tequila Worm is the moving fictionalized memoir of Sofia, a Mexican American girl from the barrio in McAllen, Texas, who enters a mostly White Protestant boarding school hundreds of miles from home but stays connected to her family. She faces sexism and some anti-Mexican racism. Teens drink here, but in this portrayal of Mexican culture, a small amount of teen drinking is acceptable. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydorayfs November 25, 2009

Great story for any age 12+

I really enjoyed reading this book. I am a Latina and I think that this book can show other cultures that latinos as not just in for taking their jobs, making t... Continue reading
Adult Written byBeknow April 9, 2008


I'm working on my certification to teach and have spent the past four years in the classroom working with middle school students. This is a book I will cer... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCassandra Ruth December 9, 2019

The Tequila Worm is a heartwarming story.

The Tequila Worm is a heartwarming story which got me through some rough times. It will put a smile on your face and happy tears in your eyes at the end of it.... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bygirlie October 16, 2010
love it

What's the story?

THE TEQUILA WORM is 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 friends. In fact, "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, and determined to keep her tied firmly to her roots when she does.

Is it any good?

First-time novelist Viola Canales creates a realistic but not didactic portrait of life in a Mexican American community in Texas. Canales' depiction will resonate with readers from within and without that culture. Vivid details of foods, traditions, rituals, and clothing are warm, rich, loving, and integrated into the daily life and mindset of all the characters. 

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 like 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. The Tequila Worm is a lovely, moving, warmhearted story that lingers long after the last page.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the importance of family in The Tequila Worm. How does keeping ties with home and friends help Sofia in her new school setting? Have you ever had to be away from your family? How did that go? 

  • In this ever changing world, should we hold on to culture and tradition? What do they do for us? Why are they important?

  • What foods and traditions help you feel like you belong to your culture? Do they give you comfort and help you feel connected when you're away from your family? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories with Latinx characters

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