Set in the fictional Latin country of Santa Maria, this richly tiered novel is, at its core, wrenchingly real. Maximiliano Córdoba, almost 12, often wonders “about big and bewildering things,” principally why his mother disappeared when he was a baby, but Max’s somber Papá refuses to answer any questions. Newbery Honoree Ryan (Echo) infuses the soccer-loving boy’s story with mystery based on local myth, closely guarded secrets, and a missing birth certificate. As the boy walks with his solitary Papá, ironically a builder of bridges in their small town, a peregrine falcon appears; legend has it that the falcon annually brings “the ghosts of the hidden ones”—refugees who fled a neighboring country’s cruelties with the help of “guardians” who shepherded them to safety through local ruins. The author interlaces this lore with the intricate story of how Max’s family played a key role in the real-life drama, and how the boy bravely steps in to carry on that legacy. Lyrical allusions to the heartbreaking reality of life under repressive regimes and Max’s belief in the promise of tomorrow fuse the title and plot of this compelling novel, which ends on a reassuring note. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2020 Release date: 03/03/2020 Genre: Children's
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