Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez

Publication Date: June 2009
Ages: 8-12
194 Pages

Newcomer Diana Lopez colors the tween scene with her debut novel about a normal Latina girl who loves socks, sports, and science. If only Lina’s life were actually that simple.

Apolonia “Lina” is a girl with a lot on her plate. Still smarting from her mother’s death a year ago, Lina and her father can’t seem to find a comfortable place in which to exist with one another. Lina thinks her father is too interested in stories and Lina’s father thinks she is too interested in anything but.

As an added bonus, Lina’s best friend, Vanessa, has begun using her to secretly date a new boyfriend and Lina’s current crush doesn’t seem to like her “that way.” Oh, and Lina’s English grade has dipped so low that she can’t play sports and her teacher has sent her to the school counselor.

Lopez does a smashing job of portraying an all-American character that doesn’t fit neatly into the all-American mold. Lina is Latina and lives in Texas, but she seems to easily transition between the two cultures in which she frequently finds herself. I really like that Lopez makes Lina’s dual world normal and does not focus too much on one culture or the other. In fact, there are dichos disguised as chapter headings in Spanish and English, as well as a healthy smattering of un-translated Spanish throughout the text.

I think this duality will ultimately be to the book’s advantage because both cultures are very real, but neither is shown to be better or dominate, they simply co-exist. The book does not become a culture “war,” but rather a story about a girl finding her place in a world where both cultures exist. Lina does not have to choose one over the other—she can have both. And so can readers.

The character of Lina is vivid and real. She is quirky, smart, tenacious, and unabashedly pursues her unique passions. However, other characters in the story seen a little flat. Vanessa seems to be the all too often used “flakey friend,” Lina’s dad is the clich├ęd unavailable brooding widower, and Vanessa’s mom is the very epitome of a man-hater. Bleah. While the story is largely about Lina and her struggles, the overall effect of the novel would have been greater if these characters were more developed and didn’t seem purely incidental to the plot.

For the most part, this bildungsroman unfolds as one might expect. However, it is to Lopez’s credit that the novel ends on a positive note, but does not have a syrupy sweet perfect ending. The sense at the end of the book is that things are looking up, but Lina still has some hardships to overcome. The ending is realistic, yet hopeful; but not overdone.

Lopez sends a clear (but subtle) message to her readers: listen to the wisdom of the ages; be who you are, not who you think you should be; and when life hits bottom, there is nowhere to go but up! Lopez reiterates a message that can’t seem to be delivered enough.

Rating: 3 and a half pages

1 comment:

  1. This one sounds cute. I like that you said smashing-it makes you sound British!:)