Monday, March 21, 2016

Book of the Week: The Land of Forgotten Girls

The Land of Forgotten Girls

by Erin Entrada Kelly
Published by Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2016
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-223864-1
Ages 9-12

Sol and her little sister, Ming, live with their abusive stepmother, Vea, in a small Louisiana town. They emigrated with the girls’ father, but their dad returned to the Philippines and hasn’t come back. Sol once believed the stories spun by their late mother about their adventurous Auntie Jove. She now knows Auntie Jove is a fantasy, but she tells the stories to Ming and Ming becomes convinced that Auntie Jove is coming to rescue them. A book that vividly depicts realities of emotional abuse and economic hardship is ultimately not about either of these things. Instead it’s a deep exploration of the importance of trust and hope and imagination and emotional security in the lives of children. Sol’s impulse to apologize to a girl she once teased, which is the start of a new friendship, brief glimpses of Vea before she was bitter, new stories Sol spins for Ming, and small kindnesses so essential to survival, all unfold through interactions of complex and nuanced characters. When Mrs. Yeung, a Chinese woman living in their building, knocks on their door in the middle of one of Vea’s tirades, Sol realizes the older woman is letting Vea know she is watching and listening, and letting the girls to know they aren’t alone. On the one hand, little in the reality of Sol and Ming’s lives has changed by story’s end. On the other hand, everything has. 2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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