Sunday, December 03, 2006

Becoming Naomi Leon, by Pam Munoz Ryan

Eleven-year-old Naomi Outlaw Leon has lived with her great-grandmother and younger brother Owen for most of her life. Her world is turned upside down when her abusive, alcoholic mother suddenly shows up and starts all sorts of trouble. Naomi is half-Mexican and half-American, and she learns many new things about her Mexican identity as she, Gram, and Owen travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, to find her father. This book is full of beautiful descriptions, endearing characters, and complex themes. Can someone be Mexican if they don't speak Spanish? What makes a family? What is true courage? Naomi tells her story in a voice that is careful, quiet, observant, and splendid.

Here are some comments from two former students of mine about this book:

"I really enjoyed Naomi Leon. Because it gave a lot of different stages that she went through. For example she became less shy, and came to her senses. She was a more opened person at school and at home. I also enjoyed it because it gave a lot of details, it had sad parts and happy and in the middle parts. And it was very interesting."

"This book was really good, because I think it had a good plot. I liked that it had a lot of details. I liked the author a lot so I decided to read other books from her. The plot was good because it was about a young girl who found herself. The details that were good was when they explained her soap carving of the animal family."

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