The What: Okay, this book isn’t technically YA, but I believe that it could have crossover appeal. Mea culpa *grin*. Slavers take Fela from Nigeria to Puerto Rico, separating her from her husband, Imo. Fela brings with her the stone that she and Imo used to store the spirit of their unborn child, and plans to find a man to help her bring their child into this world. She and the women who follow her are linked together by the magic in the stone, and by their powerful shared histories. The book shows five generations of women in good times and bad.
The Good: The voices–all five of them–are distinct and believable, as are the women’s personalities, dreams and choices. I felt like I knew them, and I felt their successes and losses keenly. The settings are stunning, and made me feel completely immersed in them. The mother-daughter relationships are tumultuous and varied, and literally made me cry. I loved the progression of the women’s attitudes through time, which showed the characters as both unique individuals and products of their moment. I think it says a lot about how well-written and moving this book is that although I’m an atheist who doesn’t believe that there was anything mystical about the stone or its powers, I was still deeply affected by the women and their stories.
The Meh: In Concha’s section, there comes a point (I won’t spoil the plot for you) when the structure of the writing becomes awkward. Llanos-Figueroa may have been trying to reflect the narrator’s state of mind at that time, but it might have been easier on the reader and better for the story to shift narrators after The Thing That I Will Not Spoil For You.
Hand It To: Fans of magical realism, fans of inter-generational sagas, feminist readers, Nancy Pearl’s character and setting readers.