Pig Park

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez. Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-935955-76-4
Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga faces her last summer at Pig Park, a once-thriving Chicago neighborhood abandoned when its largest employer moved to China. With her family’s bakery headed for bankruptcy and her parents headed for divorce, Masi and her friends assume the challenge of building an enormous pyramid on the park green. La Gran Pirámide, meant to reignite interest and tourism in the neighborhood, comes with its own cast of characters in the form of an aloof scholar and his daughter, intent on trading the neighborhood’s authenticity for a faux Mexican tourist trap, and Felix, a college intern invested in the community (and in Masi). Martinez (The Smell of Old Lady Perfume) creates an emotional dilemma for Masi, caught between a romantic crush and her family’s struggles, yet the overuse of food metaphors (“My eyelids dropped like ten-pound sacks of flour”) and easily discernible plot twists are distracting. Martinez suggests a fairy-tale undercurrent within the novel, with Masi calling herself “the Cinderella of crumbs,” but the abrupt turnaround of Masi’s neighborhood and family removes her agency and breaks the spell of this realistic novel. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Ebook - 248 pages - 978-1-935955-78-8
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-1-935955-77-1
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