Wednesday, August 24, 2022


PĂ©rez, Celia C . Tumble
August 16th 2022 by Kokila
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Addie Ramirez has a good life with her mother, who is a scientists who works with fossils in a museum in their New Mexican town, and her step father, Alex, who runs a local diner that has been in his family for years. Alex has asked if her could adopt Addie, but her mother has never told her anything about her biological father. Before she agrees to the adoption, Addie wants some questions answered. She and her best friend, Cy, do some snooping and find a Christmas photo with the same tumbleweed Santa Claus in other photos Addie and her mother have taken that features a young man, as well as Addie as a baby. Using their library skills, they go to the town historical society to request school yearbooks and locate Manny Bravo, who is a lucha libre wrestler. Her mother isn't happy; Manny disappointed her in the past, and she doesn't want her daughter to face similar disappointment. When Manny doesn't come and pick her up to take her to visit his parents and extended family in the neighboring town on Esperanza, where her mother grew up, these fears seem somewhat realized. Still, Alex drives her, and Addie gets to meet her primas (cousins) Eva and Maggie, who have continued the wrestling tradition, her grandfather who was a world champion known as El Terremoto (The Earthquake) who is now suffering from dementia, her grandmother, who was also a wrestler, and her uncle Mateo who quit wrestling and now makes costumes, masks, and occasionally performs in drag. She does connect with Manny as well, and is glad to explore this side of her family. Back home, her school is putting on its annual production of The Nutcracker, and Addie is cast as Marie despite her reservations. She also has to navigate her relationship with her mother, who is pregnant, and who still isn't thrilled about her new relationship with her biological father. When Addie talks her friends into including lucha libre wrestling into the reimagined version of The Nutcracker, will she finally be able to connect with Manny on something he understands? And will her mother be able to understand how important being part of the Bravo clan is to Addie?
Strengths: This was a great book about family and navigating changing relationships with people with whom one is close. Alex is right up there for Best Stepfather in Middle Grade Literature, and his diner food made me want to go grab a dead cow with a yellow blanket and some frog sticks! Marlene, a waitress who had been there since 1963, and her diner lingo, was worthy of an entire book! Addie was a hopeful, engaged tween who wanted to know more about her past and managed to find out what she wanted without fighting with her mother, which was good to see. Her use of local resources to locate information was fantastic; at one point, she's asked if she wants to be an archivist! She gets along with her new family even though there are bumps, and the connections she makes are very sweet. Abuela Bravo's past as a woman wrestler, and the fact that she gave up her career to raise her children and support her husband's career, is sadly an accurate portrayal of what life was like for women (and still is, often). It's good to see how her friends at school react, and I liked that she brought her family's culture into a production of the Nutcracker. This moved along quickly and was very enjoyable. 
Weaknesses: This is a bit on the long side, and there were some subplot arcs that could have been shortened or eliminated. At 369 pages, some of my students will not pick this up just because of the length. I also found it a bit hard to believe that Addie's mother, who is my older daughter's age, would have been so reluctant to tell Addie about her father. By 2010, a large number of my students had parents who were not married, and certainly this is the case now as well. The secrecy makes for a good story, however. 
What I really think: This author's The First Rule of Punk and Strange Birds are fun books that include a lot of insight into family dynamics and Latinx culture, and Tumble will appeal to the readers who like those titles, as well as books like Wallace's Bump, which includes lucha libre wrestling, and Lopez's Lucky Luna and Medina's Merci Suarez Changes Gears, which both deal with cousins and extended families. 

Ms. Yingling

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