Wednesday, February 18, 2015

dancing home

dancing home
alma flor ada & gabriel zubizarreta
young readers/family
published 2011

When Margie's cousin Lupe comes from Mexico to live in California with Margie's family, Lupe must adapt to America, while Margie, who thought it would be fun to have her cousin there, finds that she's embarrassed by her in school and jealous of her at home.

Our library hosts a series of events called Silicon Valley Reads.  Books are chosen and events are planned around them like author visits and peer discussions.  This year's theme is Homeland & Home: The Immigrant Experience.  I picked up a few of the book choices for this year and Dancing Home is my first read so far.

Dancing Home is written for young readers.  The story follows Margie, or Margarita mostly as she comes to terms with what it means for herself having her cousin come to live with them.  We get glimpses now and then into Lupe's mind as well.  Her confusion with her cousin's attitude towards her, her joy at her sense of belonging with her aunt and uncle and her fears of how different everything is in America.

Margie is determined to be as 'American' as she can and when her non-English speaking cousin joins her at school she is mortified to be associated with her.  She's done her best to erase her Mexican heritage from the eyes of her fellow classmates and all Lupe is doing is shining a light on their ethnicity.  And not only is she getting teased at school, but she finds herself being left out at home as well with her parents speaking more Spanish to her cousin than English to her.

Just like American Born Chinese, you have characters who want to strip away their culture to fit in with who they think everyone is.  And just like Jin Wang, Margie discovers that maybe she's missing out by denying her culture.

I loved this book in the way that I checked it out from the library again so Emma could read it.  I want her to read about what it's like to be different so that maybe she can recognize that in others as well as appreciating her ethnicity and what it means to be Mexican or Japanese, or Irish or English or whatever!

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