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Tehlor Kay Mejia's PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE RIVER OF TEARS - The Perfect Blend of Middle School and Fo

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)

book cover of Tehlor Kay Mejia's Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Thanks to partner NetGalley for the digital ARC of Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Paola Santiago and the River of Tears in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

Paola Santiago is obsessed with the mysteries of the world: how humans can use algae to reduce fossil fuel use, what it's really like in space, why her mother won't let her get a dog, why her family never has enough money. But most of all, she wants to know why she wakes up every night with nightmares about the river.

With Paola, Tehlor Kay Mejia has written an appealingly authentic twelve-year-old protagonist who is anchored firmly in what is objectively real. When her mother warns Paola about the dangers of the river, Paola scorns her fears because they’re not grounded in science--instead, they’re based in ghost stories, like the one about La Llorona. 

Much more pressing for Paola is her changing relationship with her best friends Dante and Emma. Dante joined the soccer team and has become increasingly interested in looking cool . . . and in his hair. Paola worries that he is leaving her and Emma behind. So when Paola has a chance for all three of them to spend time together, she ignores her mother’s warnings (as she always does) and plans a meeting by the river. But Emma doesn’t show up.

What begins then is a search for Emma, a test of friendship, and a horrible realization that her mother’s stories may have been true after all.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, is a compelling tribute to what it feels like to be twelve, to be holding on to childhood and childhood friends while moving inevitably toward adulthood. Tehlor Kay Mejia’s novel is also a great mystery and a brilliant tribute to the power of ghost stories, folklore, and mythology.

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