I was struck by a new-to-me tween book. It breathes life into tween immigrants from the Philippines. The novel isn’t specifically about their immigration to America, this is just a small piece of what makes the two main characters who they are. I love the main character’s scrappy nature and the sense that people across cultures and of different languages can come together and rely on one another. I truly enjoyed this novel.
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
After Sol’s mother and younger sister died, her family moved from the Philippines to Louisiana. As they were leaving, her father married Vea, your stereotypical evil stepmother. Vea is mean and abusive. Things only become worse when Sol’s father abandons her and her younger sister Ming with Vea. Ming and Sol are two halves of a whole, where Sol is outspoken, Ming is quiet. It is their relationship that keeps them thriving.
As summer approaches many new prospects appear, Ming asks Sol and her best friend, Manny, to build her a tree house. Sol and Manny were making fun of the wealthy prep school children, especially Caroline, an albino child. After Sol hurts Carolina, she takes it on herself to apologize and become friends with Caroline. Ming writes to their (possibly fictitious) Auntie Jove, in hopes that she will rescue the sisters before the end of summer.
The writing and the stories were beautiful. At first, Sol behaved terribly that I didn’t want to like her, but I just couldn’t help it. However, as the story progressed you got to see the true character of Sol and understand the core of why she was likeable. I truly enjoyed the characters and the story. I liked how Sol took ownership of her own actions, on her own without guidance. She is a strong wonderful character. The mythological-esque stories told throughout this novel rival those of A Little Princess and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.