Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Scholastic Press: NY, 2004.

This book surprised me. In the beginning, Naomi describes her life with her Gram and younger brother Owen as simple and pleasant, though not without struggle. Owen has physical problems, and Naomi hasn't learned to speak up.

But then her mother plays a surprise visit after abandoning them nine years earlier. She announces her plan to take Naomi with her. When Naomi doesn't cooperate, her mother becomes ugly. Gram has a surprise install for us all. She's not about to give up without a fight, and her defense is astonishing and effective.

The events set in motion by Gram lead to an unexpected adventure. Besides being quite an experience, their travels bring them closer and give Naomi the strength she needs to tell the judge her view of the whole situation. It is her testimony that decides her future.

There are two aspects of this story that are often inserted with purpose but stick out: social injustice and ethnic culture. Ryan's story unfolds naturally, and these aspects are profound pieces of the whole. The radish festival is one of these delightful segments. The part the children's father plays gives the story much of its uniqueness. I also enjoyed Naomi's "splendid words" list and the continuing of it with Spanish words.

Naomi's character is quite strong, as is Gram's despite being brief. The family and friends surround Naomi in such a loving, supportive way; it is beautiful. After about a third of the way, I could not put the book down.

This is the third book I've read of Ryan's-all different levels. The intuition and clarity in her writing amazes me. She knows the characters so well and makes you feel that it could be you in the story.

related-great grandmothers, brothers and sisters, family problems, Mexican Americans, Mexico, Mexican culture, identity, custody battle
RL=6th & up

RSS Add to Stumble It! Add to Technorati Favorites
Email Updates
Kickstart Reading/50+ Transitional Books
Horizons Transitional Books
Horizons Transitional Books
BookAdvice Crosswords
Follow minerva66 at Twitter
Knock Your Socks Off Challenge

Recent NTugo Network Posts

    ©2006-2016 Advice, banner, and coding help given by Redwall_hp. Established May 2006.