|Image: HarperCollins Publishers|
Elizabeth Acevedo returns to verse form for her third novel and it's intense! Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and sees her beloved father only during the summers. Yahaira Rios lives in New York City and misses her father terribly when he leaves each summer to visit the DR. Camino arrives at the airport to greet her dad to find crying people at the airport. Her father's plane crashed. Yahaira is called out of class and told by her mother that her father died in a plane crash. Two girls, two countries, one father. A secret exposed.
This dual narrative switches between Camino and Yahaira as they grieve and eventually learn of the other's existence. While Camino's dad sends enough money to provide tuition to a private school and some comforts for her and her Tia, she still lives in a poor neighborhood where girls often become prey to sexual predators. Her father has been paying off El Cero to leave her alone. Now that he's gone, not only are her hopes to attend Columbia as a pre-med gone, but she's not sure she can escape El Cero's plans for her.
Yahaira's situation is more stable with two working parents. Her life in Morningside Heights is comfortable. She has a girlfriend and was a rising star in the chess community until she abruptly quit a year earlier after discovering part of her father's secret.
Don't let the page count intimidate you. Both girls' voices grab from the beginning. This is an intense read with a lot of heartbreak along the way to healing and hope. If you have Acevedo fans among your students, this is an absolute must read. If you haven't yet read anything by her, certainly start here.