Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Each Tiny Spark

Cartaya, Pablo. Each Tiny Spark
August 6th 2019 by Kokila
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Emilia Torres is worried when her mother has to go out of town on business for a week, especially since her father is just coming home from his latest deployment. Sure, her Abuela is around to make sure she's fed and her curly hair is tamed (even though that's mainly Abuela's choice!), but Emilia worries about getting her homework and school projects done without her mother's reminders. It doesn't help that her father is oddly distant, working on fixing a vintage Shelby car in the garage and not hanging out with Emilia the way he used to. There is a redistricting concern in her school system, with the district wanting to bring students from Park View into Merryville. Both are suburbs of Atlanta, but Park View is mainly Latinx, and citizens of Merryville (including Emilia's sometimes friend Clarissa) feel that bringing the students is dangerous. When a school project to produce a tourism guide to the town is assigned, Emilia and her friend both find things that excite them. For Emilia, it starts with a local grocery store that carries the supplies for the West African and Hispanic food that her family cooks as part of their heritage, and becomes entwined with issues of immigration. This gets her teacher in trouble, but leads to some interesting social interactions in her town. Emilia is increasingly worried about her father, and is glad when her mother returns, even if  she comes with even bigger news that may upend Emilia's world.
Strengths: There are a lot of really good, current issues at play here. Emilia struggles with ADHD, and it's interesting to see how the adults in her life help her with coping strategies. Emilia is racially mixed, but her looks don't necessarily make her whole background apparent, which is something true of many tweens. Her father's difficult readjustment to civilian life is also well portrayed. Immigration issues are important, as are the large and small aggressions that must be dealt with in nearly every community. The friendship with Gus is good to see, and Emilia's interest in welding will also appeal to readers.
Weaknesses: Since many young readers have not had experience with issues such as immigration or racial tensions, and may not know anyone who has ADHD or has been in the military, this book may be confusing. I do want to see these issues portrayed in literature, but so many books try to shoe horn in so much that all of the issues end up being treated superficially, and the books lack focus.
What I really think: I will probably pass on purchase. I was hoping that there would be a lot more about Emilia welding, and that was really quite a small part of this. I love Cartaya's other two books, but think this title may struggle to find readers in my library.

Second day of schedule pick up. I started wearing this dress to back-to-school/meet the teacher days when my older daughter was in third grade, so since about 2002! In fact, if I texted my daughers this picture, they would know immediately that it was schedule pick up day.

Yes, it has shoulder pads. This is what the '90s looked like!

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