As part of the Reading Together Family Exploration Book Club’s Modern U.S. topic, I’m sharing my review today of Dancing Home, the selected middle grade book. We will be discussing this book on Facebook for the next 3 weeks.
Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada
Mexico may be her parents’ home, but it’s certainly not Margie’s. She has finally convinced the other kids at school she is one-hundred percent American—just like them. But when her Mexican cousin Lupe visits, the image she’s created for herself crumbles.
Things aren’t easy for Lupe, either. Mexico hadn’t felt like home since her father went North to find work. Lupe’s hope of seeing him in the United States comforts her some, but learning a new language in a new school is tough. Lupe, as much as Margie, is in need of a friend.
Little by little, the girls’ individual steps find the rhythm of one shared dance, and they learn what “home” really means. In the tradition of My Name is Maria Isabel—and simultaneously published in English and in Spanish—Alma Flor Ada and her son Gabriel M. Zubizarreta offer an honest story of family, friendship, and the classic immigrant experience: becoming part of something new, while straying true to who you are.
This book is cute. It’s the story of cousins who come from very different worlds: Margie lives in California with both of her parents, Lupe is from Mexico where she lives with her mother who has moved on to a new man and has young twins after Lupe’s father disappeared in America. Margie’s mother invites Lupe to come stay with them in California.
Things change for Margie after Lupe arrives. The other kids at school begin teasing her again, and she’s expected the translate the teacher’s words for Lupe, but Margie doesn’t speak Spanish fluently anymore. Margie begins questioning her own identity as her parents seem closer to Lupe than they do to her.
I enjoyed reading about these girls coming together. Margie has a wonderful new friend who helps bridge the gap. The characters in this book seemed genuine. The POV changes back and forth between Lupe and Margie, which was a little confusing as it’s all in third person, but helpful to get insight into the two girls’ minds.
The adults in this book were a little ridiculous at times, especially at the school, but the sentiment was good. A lot went on during this short book, but it worked fairly well. There is a lot to discuss with this book, but it’s not too heavy for middle grade readers. And the Spanish phrases were easy to understand as they were almost always repeated in English.
My Rating: 3 stars
On the blog last year…