I’ve been in a bit of a book slump for the past few months. A lot of it has to do with a new position at work sucking up all my time and brain power. That being said, I actually physically and mentally feel different if I’m not reading enough each week. I get much crabbier, more anxious and in general just don’t feel like myself. That being said, I’ve finally sat down this week to get in some reading and, boy has it felt good.
I picked up The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly for two reasons – (1) I saw it reviewed in an article on Brightly highlighting great middle grade reads of 2016 and (2) I was a sucker for the cover. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I’ll be the first to admit that I do, all the time. I was intrigued by the somewhat fairy tale-esque description, but also that it seemed as though it was based in a realistic storyline.
I read this book in just a few sitting and I loved it! The story follows 12-year-old Soledad a Filipino immigrant who lives with her sister, Ming and stepmother in Louisiana. Sol has had her fair share of heartache – her sister died in a drowning accident when she was very young, her mother passed away about a year later and although she immigrated to the U.S. with her father and stepmother, her father went back to the Philippines and never came back. To say her stepmother is not a fan is to say the least. Her words and actions are abusive and Sol feels that it’s her responsibility to look out for Ming.
What brings hope into this story is that Sol continues to learn and grow throughout the b0ok, she makes mistakes, she upsets people, but she’s always knows what’s right in the end. Her rich imagination allows her to escape her everyday life but when she teaches her sister the power of her own imagination, will it do more harm than good? Ming believes the imaginary, world-traveling aunt will come save them from their evil stepmother, but what happens when she doesn’t?
The rich characters make this story come to life. Sol, her best friend Manny, a new friend Caroline and a host of adults that Sol comes in contact with really make this story what it is. It’s a beautiful story about the power of your imagination and that sometimes you know less than you think you do.
Twitter Booktalk (14o characters or less): Filipino immigrant, Sol escapes reality with the help of her imagination, but maybe the real world holds more than she gives it credit for.
Title: The Land of Forgotten Girls
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: 2016
Page Number: 299 pgs.