Reviews for Summer of the Mariposas

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
After Odilia, 16, and her four younger sisters find a body floating in the river, they drive across the Mexican border to return the drowned man home. Their real mission, though, is to get to Abuelita's house and find their father, who abandoned Mamá and his daughters a year earlier. In true mythic style, the girls encounter heroes and monsters on their perilous, sometimes gruesome journey, including attacks by a coven of winged witches and creatures from Mexican folklore. After falling under the enchantment of an evil sorceress and an ancient fortune-teller, they are saved by Llorona, who looks monstrous but is the protector of the Azteca people and shows the five sisters their way. Just as compelling as the vivid fantasy is the realism, especially the standoffs and reconciliations among the caring sisters, and the final shocking truth about their father and themselves is far from a sweet resolution. Readers will be drawn by the contemporary family drama and the magic, and they'll appreciate the author's note that discusses the story's roots in Mexican folklore and The Odyssey. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
In a witty voice, fifteen-year-old Odilia Garza recounts how she and her four younger sisters discover a corpse in a river near their Texas home and return him to his Mexican family across the border. Magical realism is introduced through several Mexican mythological characters who both challenge and help the girls on their [cf2]Odyssey[cf1]-like journey in this story of sisterly love. Glos.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #2
In her first fantasy, Pura BelprÚ winner McCall (Under the Mesquite, 2011)tells the story of five sisters and their myriad adventures as they travel from their home in Texas to Mexico. When narrator and eldest Odilia and her sisters, Juanita, Velia, Delia and Pita, find a dead man in their swimming hole, Odilia wants to call the authorities. She is soon overruled by her sisters, who clamor to return the man to his family and visit their grandmother, all of whom live in Mexico. What follows is a series of adventures that hover somewhere on the border between fantasy and magical realism as the sisters are helped and hindered by supernatural forces including Latin American legends La Llorona, lechuzas and chupacabras. Despite multiple decisions that lead them into danger, the younger sisters persist in dismissing Odilia's warnings, their bad choices ranging from silly to decidedly immature. When they reach their grandmother's house, the dialogue-heavy story continues with extensive reflection of a level of maturity incongruous with the behavior exhibited in prior pages. The sisters then return home to face real-world problems that may prove most challenging of all. While this story is sometimes bogged down by moralizing and adventures that don't always seem to support the plot, originality and vibrancy shine through to make it a worthwhile read despite its flaws. (Fantasy. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

Gr 7-9--While swimming in the Rio Grande, the five Garza sisters find a dead man, and, against the better judgment of Odilia, the eldest, decide to return his body to his family in El Sacrificio, Mexico. Their decision is partly altruistic and partly personal, for their paternal grandmother, whom they have rarely seen, lives nearby. Thus begins their journey, guided by supernatural forces, both good and evil, and the ever-present mariposas (butterflies) that guide their way. Succumbing to the false promises of the sorceress Cecelia, the shape-shifting donkey (nagual), and the vampiric chupacabras, they finally reach their destination. Although the man's family does not welcome his corpse, the girls' main purpose is fulfilled, and they reestablish their relationship with their abuela, who helps them return home, wise enough to spurn their rogue-father's false promises and recognize their mother's true love for them. Written in the style of magic realism, this is an enchanting look at Mexican mysticism, coupled with the realistic celebration of the true meaning of family. The sisters' relationships are believably drawn, and the juxtaposition of modern realities and ancient Aztec mythology elucidates the importance of the spiritual side of life in Latin cultures. The plot is well paced, with the illicit nature of the girls' entry into Mexico adding drama to their adventure. While some readers may find the interweaving of the magical elements somewhat unsettling at first, they are sure to be intrigued by both the unusual qualities of the mythical characters and the sense of adventure that lies behind every twist and turn of the girls' revelatory journey. As with McCall's Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low, 2011), this is a peek into Mexican American culture, but its ties to the supernatural add an interesting dimension.Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 6 Up--This novel more than fulfills the promise of McCall's Under the Mesquite. In Summer of the Mariposas, she audaciously sets out to retell Homer's Odyssey within the context of Latino folklore. Odilia is the oldest of five sisters who have vowed to stay together forever. When they happen upon the body of a drowned man in their swimming hole, they decide to take him back to Mexico to his family, who happen to live nearby their own grandmother. La Llorona appears to Odilia and becomes her mentor and guide. The journey to the girls' grandmother's ranch involves getting across the border with a corpse without being caught by authorities. Then the magical realism kicks in as Odilia and her sisters have to combat various supernatural beings, including a shape-shifting witch and the dreaded Chupacabras, the monster who eats goats. These are just some of the connections, especially with the books of scary short stories mentioned below, that make this book such a rich source of material to introduce children to Latino myths, as well as the Odyssey itself. I love McCall's take on La Llorona, whom she sets out to redeem as a sympathetic mother figure, rather than the scary child kidnapper she is most often made out to be.

[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2012 December
When Odilia and her sisters find a dead man in their secret water hole, they also find his wallet with his name, address in Mexico, and money.  His home happened to be in a town just across the U.S. border, near where their paternal grandmother lives.  Maybe she knows what happened to their own father, who has been missing for a year.  The sisters drag the dead body out of the water, steal their father's car that he abandoned at their house, and take off.  This is just the beginning, as these girls not only have to stay out of sight because they know their mother would report them missing, but they take on a witch, a warlock, dangerous half-human owls, and chupacabras along the way. Although the author ambitiously attempts to create a Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey and incorporate traditional Aztec mythology, the insertion of magical creatures interfered with what could have been a great story on its own. When the magical elements appear sporadically throughout the story, they slow down the plot and take power away from the protagonist to act on her own decisions and strength.  Longer chapters with no breaks and heavy chunks of narration will deter some readers from choosing this book or from continuing to read through to the end if they do select it.--Dianna Geers. 2Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.