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Becoming Naomi León (Scholastic Gold)
Gr. 4-7. Half-Mexican Naomi Soledad, 11, and her younger disabled brother, Owen, have been brought up by their tough, loving great-grandmother in a California trailer park, and they feel at home in the multiracial community. Then their alcoholic mom reappears after seven years with her slimy boyfriend, hoping to take Naomi (not Owen) back and collect the welfare cheque. Determined not to let that happen, Gramme drives the trailer across the border to a barrio in Oaxaca to search for the children’s dad at the city’s annual Christmas arts festival. In true mythic tradition, Ryan, the author of the award-winning Esperanza Rising (2000), makes Naomi’s search for her dad a search for identity, and both are exciting. Mom is demonised, but the other characters are more complex, and the quest is heartbreaking. The dense factual detail about the festival sometimes slows the story, but it’s an effective tool for dramatising Naomi’s discovery of her Mexican roots and the artist inside herself. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved —This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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