Sonia Ocampo was born during a terrible storm in the poor village of Tres Campos. Villagers considered it a miracle that they and Sonia all survived – and they began asking her to pray for their troubles. She wears a shawl that is weighed down – literally and figuratively – by the amulets they give her. As she tells her aunt:
“I can’t do what everyone wants. I can’t stop bad times from finding us. I can’t control things any more than they can. … Do you know what it’s like to live as I do? To be asked to make rain in the dry season? To cure coughs? … And why am I cursed this way? Because I was born on the wrong night, that’s all. It’s all been a silly lie.”
Her aunt offers to help her escape her situation by finding her a job as a maid for a rich family in the capital. But she has trouble learning new skills and adjusting to her unfriendly co-workers. And her troubles surmount when she finds out her brother Rafael has disappeared.
This novel had an old-fashioned quality to it that reminded me of a Latino version of Little House in the Prairie. The time period is never mentioned – although there are cars, there aren’t gadgets such as iPhones or TV. But the issues Sonia and the characters face – such as finding a place in society and searching for a better life – parallels issues people face today.
Medina writes in descriptive, beautiful prose that never drags the story. The ending is somewhat unexpected because it doesn’t end happily. But young girls will enjoy reading this story.
• Meg Medina, who grew up in Queens, New York, and lives in Richmond, Virginia, is the author of Milagros: Girl from Away and Aunt Isa Wants a New Car, which won the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award and earned a spot on the 2012 Amelia Bloomer List.
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.