cover image Love, Amalia

Love, Amalia

Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta. S&S/Atheneum, $14.99 (125p) ISBN 978-1-442424-02-9

Ada and Zubizaretta’s (Dancing Home) uneven collaboration focuses on the deep bond between Mexican-American sixth-grader Amalia and her grandmother. When Amalia’s best friend, Martha, moves away from Chicago, Amalia’s Abuelita helps Amalia cope with the anger and sorrow. But when Abuelita unexpectedly dies, Amalia descends into an overwhelming grief that renders her unable to connect with the many relatives who descend upon their household—and whose stories Abuelita often shared with her on their weekly Fridays together. The authors successfully depict family love and closeness across generations and distances, but their combined voice lacks energy, relying on summaries and platitudes: “Moments like this made their friendship so special.” Two of the livelier sections are memories: one of a camping trip with Martha’s family and one of Amalia’s grandmother’s guidance in helping her granddaughter resolve a wrong action. In the final chapters, when Amalia directly faces her grief and reaches out to her relatives, the book finally takes on an authentic emotional poignancy, bringing a closing richness to this story of a girl’s first experience of loss. Ages 8–12. Agent: Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary. (July)