Kelly, Erin Entrada. Land of Forgotten Girls, The. Fiction.
Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 03/2016. 304pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-223864-1. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-7.
After their sister and mother die, and their father never returns from a trip home to the Philippines, 12-year-old Soledad (Sol) and her younger sister Ming are left to live with Vea, their abusive stepmother. While Ming is convinced that their Auntie Jove will be coming to get them, Sol knows the truth: that their mother made this mythical, globe-trotting aunt up, and they are stuck in their current situation. Intriguing side characters, such as Sol’s best friend, a Mexican American boy named Manny who has a crush on her; an elderly Chinese neighbor rumored to have a safe full of money; and a private school girl, Caroline, who is an initial bullying target for Sol and Manny because of her albinism, flesh out Sol’s world. And it is in these characters that Soledad eventually realizes that there may actually be a support network for her and her sister. Though allusions (oblique and overt) to fairy tales and fairy tale tropes are littered throughout the story as a means by which Sol can hold on to some hope in a seemingly desperate situation, Kelly shows respect for readers by not tacking on a fairy tale ending, adding to the novel’s sense of truth and authenticity. Review based on an ARC.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library