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What the Moon Saw: A Novel

by Resau, Laura


Book Review     

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Starred Review. Gr 5-9–Out of the blue, 14-year-old Clara Luna receives a letter from her grandparents inviting her to spend the summer with them in Mexico. She has never met her fatherâs parents and he has not seen them since he left his homeland more than 20 years ago. Wary of visiting people she doesnât know and yet frustrated and restless with her life at home, Clara embarks on the two-day journey to the remote village of Yucuyoo. Through her experiences there, she discovers not only her own strength as an individual, but also her talent for healing, which she shares with her grandmother. The exquisitely crafted narrative includes Claraâs first-person impressions and descriptions interspersed with chapters of her grandmotherâs story. The characters are well developed, each with a fully formed backstory. Resau does an exceptional job of portraying the agricultural society sympathetically and realistically, naturally integrating Spanish words and phrases in Mixteco into the plot without distracting from it. The atmosphere is mystical and dreamlike, yet energetic. Readers will relish Claraâs adventures in Mexico, as well as her budding romance with Pedro. This distinguished novel will be a great addition to any collection.–Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX

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From BookList, October 15, 2006, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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*Starred Review*

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“In all my fourteen years, I hadn't thought much about Mexico,” says Clara, who lives in suburban Maryland with her American mother and Mexican father, who crossed the border illegally long ago. Then Clara's Mexican grandparents invite her to spend the summer with them in Oaxaca, and she finds herself on a plane, traveling to see a part of her father's life she has barely considered. Resau's deeply felt, lyrical debut follows Clara through her summer with her grandparents, who live in small huts in the remote Oaxacan mountains. After her grandfather tells Clara that her grandmother “can see a whole world that the rest of us cannot,” Clara learns that Abuelita is a healer, and in alternating first-person narratives, Resau juxtaposes Abuelita's stories of her coming-of-age with Clara's own awakening. Pedro, a young neighbor, stirs some of Clara's first romantic desires and forces questions about cultural misperceptions. The metaphors of personal discovery are sometimes heavy and esoteric, and the transitions between narrators are occasionally contrived. But in poetic, memorable language, Resau offers a rare glimpse into an indigenous culture, grounding her story in the universal questions and conflicts of a young teen. Readers who enjoyed Ann Cameron's Colibri (2003) will find themselves equally swept up in this powerful, magical story, and they'll feel, along with Clara, “the spiderweb's threads, connecting me to people miles and years away.”
GillianEngberg.

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