cover image Tortilla Sun

Tortilla Sun

Jennifer Cervantes, Chronicle, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7015-3

In this strong debut, Cervantes relies on the tried-and-tried recipe of a preadolescent forced to spend summer in an unfamiliar environment, but spices it up with a dash of magical realism and a vibrant New Mexico landscape. Twelveyear-old Izzy, whose father died before she was born, is sent to live with her grandmother while her mother completes a research project. An aspiring writer, Izzy is haunted by the mystery of her father's death and frustrated by her mother's refusal to talk about him. Once in her parents' native village, she begins to find answers to her questions about his life and death— and her own birth. Colorful characters— an orphaned six-year-old girl; a prophetic storyteller; a handsome 13-year-old neighbor—accompany Izzy on her quest for her heritage; mouthwatering descriptions of her grandmother's culinary gifts waft tantalizingly through the tale. Cervantes fills her story with mystical possibilities— talking with spirits, hearing what the wind whispers, gathering powerful herbs by moonlight—but also with the inescapable realities of illness, death, and mourning. The result is an imaginative yet grounded novel. Ages 8–12. (June)