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  • Paola Santiago Book 1 Paolo Santiago and the River of Tears (Rick Riordan Presents)

Paola Santiago Book 1 Paolo Santiago and the River of Tears (Rick Riordan Presents)

paolo santiago and the river of tears

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents author Tehlor Kay Mejia and her thrilling fantasy adventure based on the Mexican legend of La Llorona (the Crying Woman).

Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It's all they've heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.

Hating her mother's humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it's the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .

Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.---from the publisher

368 pages                            978-1368049177                         Ages 8-12

Keywords:  Latin American folk tale, monsters, supernatural, legends, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, girls and women, Latina


Any book from Rick Riordan Presents probably needs no introduction or book-talking to make it appealing to readers. Here are my thoughts anyway. Paola's story deals with Mexican and Southwestern folklore such as chupacabras and the legend of La Llorona (the Crying Woman). But it also deals with racial prejudice, differences between economic classes, immigration services, and the difficulty of growing up.

Paola relies on science because she dislikes and distrusts her  mother's Tarot cards, incense, candles, and other "superstitious garbage that didn't work." Focusing on hard facts and researching scientific phenomena help Pao to feel in control and as if she is standing on her own, separate from her mother's beliefs. But when her friend Emma disappears and Pao's off dreams seem to give her clues to what happened, she might have to be more open-minded about spiritual things.

With some help from her friend Dante (despite their recently weird boy/girl awareness messing up their comfrotable friendship), Pao decides she will have to rescue Emma. After all, the police are notorious for not taking Latinx kids seriously, so they are on their own. Well, except there may be other forces trying to put an end to the creepy happenings along the Gila River. Can Pao and Dante trust these strangers with their friend's safety?

The story perfectly captures the way teens (and even preteens) try to distance themselves from their parents by embracing different values. With Pao it is science versus spiritualism, but it can take many forms. It also shows the awkwardness that can slip into boy-girl friendships as the friends realize they may also have romantic feelings. And there is the pain and resentment of friends that are growing up and beginning to find interests and new friends outside that tight bond that has always been there.

Mejia has perfectly captured that rocky area of middle school when kids are stuck between the childhood years and the teen years, still trying to hang onto what is comfortable but also wanting to strike out on their own. Trying to deal with all of that would be hard enough, but then there are the recent kidnappings in the area, Emma's disappearance, La Llorona and the other supernatural creatures, money problems, ICE raids on their neighbors, and it seems too much even for someone of Pao's determination.

Those who are new to the imprint will want to try out the other authors in Rick Riordan Presents. Those who are already fans will welcome this new addition and eagerly await the next book in the series.

Recommended by:  Suzanne Costner, Librarian, Tennessee USA

See more of her recommendations:  https://fveslibrary.blogspot.com/

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