“Petra Luna is in America, having escaped the Mexican Revolution and the terror of the Federales. Now that they are safe, Petra and her family can begin again, in this country that promises so much. Still, twelve-year-old Petra knows that her abuelita, little sister, and baby brother depend on her to survive. She leads her family from a smallpox-stricken refugee camp on the Texas border to the buzzing city of San Antonio, where they work hard to build a new life. And for the first time ever, Petra has a chance to learn to read and write.
Yet Petra also sees in America attitudes she thought she’d left behind on the other side of the Río Grande―people who look down on her mestizo skin and bare feet, who think someone like her doesn’t deserve more from life. Petra wants more. Isn’t that what the revolution is about? Her strength and courage will be tested like never before as she fights for herself, her family, and her dreams.”
Last year, when I read #NetGalley #ARCReview: Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, I was blown away by this children’s book that didn’t read like a children’s book. That book was so good at bringing young Petra’s world to life, I was sure it would be short-listed for the Newbery. I was wrong, although the book was the New York Public Library Book of the Year.
Happily, I discovered a sequel, The Other Side of the River (Amazon), whose publication date is September 6, 2022. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of the book from NetGalley and Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I did not think a sequel to The Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna could be as good as the original. But in some ways, The Other Side of the River surpasses the original book. While the original book shared the plight of Petra’s family as they try to flee Mexico, the new book is completely different. Petra and her family are now in America, making their way to San Antonio, following the revolution in Mexico.
The trials and tribulations that Petra has to go through in this book are even greater than in the original book. Taking on the responsibilities of taking care of her family at such a young age, always hustling, always thinking, trying to better herself. These are all things that readers young and old can connect with. Dealing with an unfeeling boss, then finding a better place of employment, with better wages and benefits, is just one of the many life lessons one can learn from this book. The strength of family and caring for one another in unparalleled. To take on the burden of caring for a younger sister and brother as well as her grandmother is terrifying yet necessary to Petra’s growth as a person.
I don’t want to get into specifics here because I want you to be surprised at the book’s twists and turns as I did, but suffice it to say that once I was winding up this satisfying read, I could tell the door was open to a third book in the series, for which I was truly grateful. I hope I’m right, because this is the type of children’s book that needs to be written and read.
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