by Crystal Velasquez
First sentence: “My muscles burn as the thick green jungle vines speed by in a blur.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: The characters are in high school and there’s some bullying and a little bit of romance (he like likes me!) but otherwise, it’s appropriate for the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
Ana is an orphan (oh no!) living with her aunt and uncle, who happen to be enthusiastic scholars and collectors of Mayan artifacts. It’s their heritage, as well as Ana’s, and they’re incredibly proud of it. Even though Ana misses her parents, she’s incredibly happy. Then, the summer before high school, Ana gets a letter admitting her to to her parents’ alma matter, Temple Academy. Her aunt and uncle are a bit wary, but they send her off anyway.
At first, Ana tries to fit in with the super rich, super popular girls, which includes her roommate, Nicole. But, she soon finds out that fitting in costs way too much (both financially and morally). She ends up being friends with Doli, who’s Navajo, and Shani, who’s Egyptian. It turns out that the three of them — four with Lin, who’s Chinese, and a bit of a bully at first — are part of something bigger, something more ancient than any of them had ever expected.
It’s so hard for me not to spoil this book because it really was awesome. Not only are four of the main characters people of color (and descended from ancient civilizations which the author respects, I think) but they do some awesome things. There’s a whole scene near the end of the book that just had me cheering. There was a bit of a bullying dynamic and the love triangle-y stuff was a bit much (More adventure! More magic! Less love!), but it wasn’t enough to get me to dislike this. There’s just so much to love.
Give it to all those kids who are reading the Warrior books. They’d love it.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)