Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay by Julia Alvarez

How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay (The Tia Lola Stories)Sometimes, I am really glad to have reviews stored up, because as I write this, Amazon Associates is down. I don't link to books in a way that you are buying them and giving me a kickback (at the time of this writing, anyway), but I do love the widget for book covers.

How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay by Julia Alvarez (Random House - Knopf) is about two kids (but mostly about the older brother) who move to upstate New York when their mom and dad get divorced, and mom brings her sister Lola from the Dominican Republic to live with them during the transition. This is Tia Lola; I'm missing the accent, but Tia Lola is Aunt Lola. See how I just let on that this is a translated term without going all "...someone said, which means aunt in Spanish"? This book has a lot of Spanish text in it. Repetitious, perhaps, if you're completely fluent in both languages--or maybe interesting, as you compare the subtleties in what is and isn't always conveyed--but it's very appropriate that this book is bilingual, given that its characters are (and sometimes aren't) and that its characters are dealing with biculturalism (and I'm using that term loosely), moving between cities, countries, cultures, and other split situations.

Tia Lola is sometimes an embarrassment, sometimes magic (figuratively, not literally), always family, and I think this is an awesome book that I’d have read in one sitting if I’d had time for sitting when I was reading it. Beware, however: I read this as an e-book and the formatting is so awful I was not always sure what was going on. It’s an utter mess. I don't think anyone looked at it. It's not just the characters needed for Spanish, it's everything.

On the up side, there are sequels! A good middle grade read about family.

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