Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Summer of the Mariposas
Tu Books, 2012
YA Magical Contemporary
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
While browsing Netgalley, I saw this book and thought the cover was pretty. I didn't look too closely at it but was happy to discover that it featured butterflies (hence the title Mariposa) as well as a group of sisters, five to be exact. My weakness for sister relationships in book is well-documented so I sat back to enjoy the ride.
However all was not smooth sailing as I found the eldest sister Odilia pleasant enough but her four younger sisters were brats. Really all five were annoying with their disregard for the pressure their mother was under after their father ran off and the tough situation they were in. But the five must band together when the middle three decide to deliver the dead body they find in a river back to his family in Mexico. This dead body reminded me very strongly of "Stand By Me" which I watched not too long ago. Then things took a turn for the weird with the spirit of Llorana, a woman who haunts the riverbanks seeking her dead children. She bestows a special blessing on Odilia.
The situation gets weirder as they encounter malevolent spirits throughout their journey. As I picked up the story expecting a contemporary, I was very confused. About halfway through, I started looking through goodreads reviews to discover that this was an Odyssey retelling. This caused a lightbulb to go on in my head and helped the story make a lot more sense to me. A cool addition is the Aztec mythology-something I knew nothing about but was cool to learn about.
I did feel like the book was a little uneven in terms of how engaged I was with the plot and some of the turns felt very simplistic. This might be a better read for younger readers who might be better able to sympathize with the sisters while I was very much on the mother's team. For me, the best part was the concluding chapters when they have to confront their father for his failures. I found it absolutely gripping.
Overall: Really cool story with the addition of Aztec tradition but I had trouble connecting with the characters.