Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Summer of the Mariposas

Summer of the Mariposas
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Expected publication October 15, 2012 by Lee & Low Books

Odilia and her sisters make a startling discovery one typical summer day - a dead man in the river. Soon, the spirited hermanitas are on a quest to return the man to his duty, encountering a variety of perilous supernatural beings along the way.

That isn't a very good description of this book (I seem to be hit or miss with these) - it makes it sound more paranormal than the book actually is. In truth, this is a retelling of The Odyssey with a strong influence of traditional Mexican and Aztec legends and myths. I received this egalley as an attendee at School Library Journal's SummerTeen celebration and figured I'd give it a shot. McCall's first novel, Under the Mesquite, was an award-winner and, though I haven't read it yet, I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to check her out. I have to admit, this book was not my cup of tea. I can see where this book might have appeal for readers - Odilia's difficulties dealing with her sisters and the hardships her family has faced are easy to relate to and understand for many teen readers. Additionally, the quest to do the right thing will be appealing to many. Unfortunately, for me, this book just fell short. I did not enjoy any of the characters - I felt they were all cartoonish, immature, and unsympathetic. I thought much of the action was convoluted and ridiculous - and yes, I realize this is sort of like a fable but I just didn't buy into it here. I was increasingly annoyed and frustrated by the girls throughout the course of the book - they just seemed to be making unrealistic and, to be frank, idiotic decisions. I did enjoy the inclusion of La Llorona, especially in a new and interesting way - but it wasn't enough to make me enjoy the book. Normally, I'm a big fan of retellings, and I actually really love The Odyssey but, in this case, the connection wasn't strong enough for me to fully embrace this as a retelling. I seem to be in the minority opinion, looking at other early reviews, so I'd love to hear others weigh in. But this was a disappointment for me.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via NetGalley.

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