A girl journeys across her family’s land to save her grandmother’s life in this captivating and magical debut that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.
Yolanda Rodríguez-O’Connell has a secret. All the members of her family have a magical gift—all, that is, except for Yolanda. Still, it’s something she can never talk about, or the townsfolk will call her family brujas—witches. When her grandmother, Wela, falls into an unexplained sleep, Yolanda is scared. Her father is off fighting in a faraway war, her mother died long ago, and Yolanda has isolated herself from her best friend and twin sister. If she loses her grandmother, who will she have left?
When a strange grass emerges in the desert behind their house, Wela miraculously wakes, begging Yolanda to take her to the lone pecan tree left on their land. Determined not to lose her, Yolanda sets out on this journey with her sister, her ex-best friend, and a boy who has a crush on her. But what is the mysterious box that her grandmother needs to find? And how will going to the pecan tree make everything all right? Along the way, Yolanda discovers long-buried secrets that have made their family gift a family curse. But she also finds the healing power of the magic all around her, which just might promise a new beginning.
Set in a small New Mexico town, Ryon's debut explores the innate tensions of close relationships, the mysteries of family history, and the intricate processes of grief. Two weeks ago, 12-year-old scientist Yolanda Rodr guez-O'Connell's grandmother, Wela, fell into a mysterious slumber. Yo's beloved grandfather, Welo, died of cancer less than a year earlier, her widowed father is on another tour in Afghanistan, and her best friend, Ghita Patel, has chosen Yo's fraternal twin, Sonja, over her just like everyone else. Worse, Yo hasn't inherited the maternal magical gift, which, though it subjects the family to suspicion, Yo can't help but want. Wela is much like the pecan tree at the top of the hill, the last of the Rodr guez's ancestral orchard to survive the drought; she wakes up long enough to ask Yolanda to take her there, where "everything will be set right." Facing the imminent threat of removal by social worker, Yo agrees, bundling the dying Wela into the suddenly tall grass with Sonja, Ghita, and Ghita's kind brother Hasik in tow. Though the cast and subplots feel a bit bloated, Yolanda's struggles are complex, and the narrative of family legacies and intergenerational trauma is ultimately compelling uplifting without being schmaltzy. Ages 10 up. \n