A 12-year-old girl struggles after a move across continents.
María Emilia, who goes by the pet name Mimilia, is a Miami-born Argentine girl who is excited about finishing seventh grade and singing a solo in her school choir at graduation. But her plans to celebrate before entering Argentine high school in eighth grade are derailed when her mother gets a job teaching Latin American history at a college in Utah. Leaving her hometown of Mendoza with her parents and two younger brothers also means leaving her grandma Lela behind—and her aging cat, Estrellita. As a parting gift, Lela gives Mimilia a binder full of letters from her great-grandmother Nonna Celestina, written after she emigrated from Italy to Argentina at age 12. But even with this sage epistolary guidance, Mimilia is having a hard time finding her voice in her new home. She feels like a foreigner in the country where she was born and grapples with new foods, feeling self-conscious about her accent, making new friends, and having to repeat seventh grade. Her only consolation is a stray dog who shows up, reminding her of her beloved cat—and who ultimately helps make Utah feel more like home. Méndez presents an entertaining and endearing tale of resilience in the face of change and loss as well as the opportunities that can come when challenges are met.
A sweet tale of dealing with estrangement and finding belonging. (Fiction. 8-12)