Hints of magical realism infuse Medina's story, set in an unnamed Latin American country. Teenage Sonia Ocampos lives with her family—including her handsome rakish brother, Rafael—in a tiny village where the residents struggle daily against poverty and natural forces. According to the villagers, Sonia is special, endowed from birth with the power to answer prayers. Sonia walks through life wrapped in a shawl that grows ever heavier with the metal milagros (prayer charms) bestowed upon it. The opportunity to serve as apprentice housemaid in a wealthy home in the capital brings new discoveries and obstacles, particularly in the form of the owner's lecherous nephew. When Sonia learns that Rafael has gone missing, presumably seeking a brighter future, she must look beyond her powers of prayer to rescue him. Touches of romantic longing between Sonia and a poetically talented orphan boy create an enticing undercurrent; secondary characters reveal unexpected aspects of their personalities as the suspense builds. Medina persuasively depicts the sights, rhythms, and relationships of both village life and the servants' world at Casa Masón, but her story is missing the spark that would make it truly engrossing. Ages 14–up (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2012 Release date: 03/01/2012 Genre: Children's
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